The Commiphora myrrha tree is native to Somalia and the eastern parts of Ethiopia, but long been was introduced to southern Arabia.
The Commiphora prefers dry, rocky hills, and grows to a height of about 3 metres. Its branches are thorny and it produces flowers.
Myrrh flows in fluid form from resin ducts in the bark, either when the bark splits or when it is cut. As is the case with frankincense, the fluid hardens in the air, creating lumps of myrrh.
Myrrh tastes bitter, but has an attractive smell, coming from the myrrhol.
Myrrh may be burned to produce a heavy smoke which is bitter but having a little sweetness as in vanilla. While burning, myrrh boils, while other resins usually melt.
Myrrh was much appreciated in ancient times, and often sold at prices higher than gold. It was then used for incense, perfumes and cosmetics, as well as with embalming and ointments.
Myrrh is mentioned in the Bible several times, and was one of the gifts presented to the infant Jesus by the Magi.
In modern times, myrrh is cheap and used for everyday products like toothpaste, lotions, stimulating tonics and as a protective agent in pharmaceuticals, but also for more expensive products like perfumes. Its use with incense is less popular today.