False Balm Of Gilead (Cedronella canariensis)

My False Balm Of Gilead (Cedronella canariensis) is doing well in the polytunnel, where I have to grow it since it is a native of the Canary Islands and wouldn’t survive the winter here in England.

It is one of several plants called ‘Balm of Gilead’, a rare aromatic mentioned in the Bible, which was used medicinally. Scholars have identified the true Balm of Gilead as Commiphora gileadensis.

Sadly, while my False Balm of Gilead is intensely fragrant, it has no known medicinal properties supported by research, though it is used in folk medicine in Madeira as a digestive herb  in the form of a fragrant tea called Thé de Canaries’, reputedly anti-spasmodic  and calming. [1]

However, the musky cedar-like scent is so beautiful I grow it to add to potpourris, and make an oil from it that I add to skin care preparations, purely for the perfume. I have noticed that it acts as an insect repellent, so hanging aromatic bunches of it in the house may serve a dual purpose.

© Anna Franklin 2020

[1] SEQUEIRA, M. Menezes, Fontinha, S., FREITAS, F.; RAMOS, L.; MATEUS G. Maria. (2006). Plantas e Usos  Tradicionais NAS Memórias de Hoje. Freguesia da Ilha. Santana: Casa do Povo da Ilha / Parque Natural da  Madeira.


Author: annafranklinblog

Anna Franklin is the High Priestess of the Hearth of Arianrhod, which runs teaching circles, a working coven, and the annual Mercian Gathering, a Pagan camp which raises money for charity. She regularly speaks at conferences, moots and workshops around the country. She is the author of many books on witchcraft and Paganism, including the popular Pagan Ways Tarot, Sacred Circle Tarot, The Fairy Ring, Herb Craft, Magical Incenses and Oils, Personal Power, A Romantic Guide to Handfasting, Familiars, The Oracle of the Goddess, Hearth Witch, The Path of the Shaman and The Hearth Witch’s Compendium. Anna’s books have been translated into nine languages.

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