What a fascinating old scraggy tree in the middle of nowhere!
It’s a Frankincense tree (Boswellia sacra) in Dhofar, southern Oman, growing on the edge of the Empty Quarter.
To collect Frankincense, the bark is cut with a knife and the resin that oozes out hardens into little ‘tears’. Its healing qualities have been known since 7,000 BC and it was one of the gifts the wise men gave to baby Jesus, at a time when it was worth its weight in gold. It has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and has been used as a deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, chewing gum and as a natural pest repellent warding off mosquitoes.
Roman Catholic church goers will recognise the smell and doctors are now exploring its possible uses in cancer treatments.