oswellia papyrifera (Del.) Hochst is one of those species with multiple economic and ecological benefits in Africa. It is found in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Sudan, Uganda and Eritrea (Vollesen 1989). The species is widely known for its frankincense.
Despite its multiple benefits, B. papyrifera is nowadays reported to be in plight conditions and needs priority in conservation (Marshall, 1998). Its population is degrading due to extensive farming, overgrazing, fire, poor incense harvesting practices, shifting cultivation, termite and other insect infestations (Oqbazghi 2001). This paper introduces and describes the species in general and its non-timber product (frankincense) in particular.
The history and contemporary use and trade of frankincense from B. papyrifera are reviewed. Techniques of harvesting, grading and sorting of frankincense are presented. Finally, issues and concern related to the population decline of B. papyrifera are highlighted.