ISI 2006-15. Boswellia nana Hepper

This is perhaps the most ornamental of the frankincense genus, with a compact bonsai-like habit, glossy, pinnately-divided leaves and showy pink flowers. Few botanical expeditions have been made to its habitat, the Yemeni island of Socotra, due to the island’s inaccessibility and tight governmental controls. The two most notable expeditions (from which virtually all Socotran succulents in cultivation derive) were in 1967 and 1999. Thanks to the cooperation of Gary James (one of the participants of the 1999 expedition) and Joe Stead (horticulturist at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, CA, who makes propagation of rare plants look easy), the endemic B. nana is destined to become widely available. The success of Joe’s propagation efforts is described in a beautifully illustrated article in the Cactus and Succulent Journal (Vol. 75:61-65, 2003). HBG 94013, from controlled pollination of three plants collected with the permission of the Environment Protection Council of Yemen, Mar., 1999, by G. James et al. (incl. J. Lavranos & B. Mies), on the Hamaderoh Plateau of NE Socotra. $80.

Photo © 2006 by John N. Trager. Images may not be used elsewhere without permission.

Published in the Cactus and Succulent Journal, Vol. 78 (2), March - April, 2006