Balm Of Gilead, a plant of the genus amy-ris, the balsamodendron Gileadense of De Can-dolle. Its leaves yield when bruised a strong aromatic scent. From this plant is obtained the balm of Gilead of the shops, also called balsam of Mecca or of Syria. This has a yellowish or greenish color, a warm and somewhat bitter aromatic taste, and a fragrant smell. It is valued as an odoriferous ointment or cosmetic by the Turks, who often adulterate it for the market. The amyris is a low tree or shrub, growing in several parts of Abyssinia and Syria. It has spreading, crooked branches, small bright green leaves growing in threes, and small white flowers on separate footstalks. The petals are four in number, and the fruit is a small egg-shaped berry, containing a smooth nut. To obtain the juice, the bark of the tree is cut at the time when its sap is in its strongest period of circulation. As the juices ooze through the wound they are received into small earthen bottles, every day's produce being poured into larger bottles and corked. When fresh, the smell of the balsam is exquisitely fragrant, but if left exposed to the atmosphere it loses this quality. The quantity of balsam yielded by one tree is said never to exceed 60 drops in a day.
It is therefore very scarce, and can with difficulty be procured in a pure and unadulterated state, even at Constantinople. Its stimulating properties upon the skin are such that the face of a person unaccustomed to use it becomes red and swollen after its application, and continues so for several days. The Turks use it as a cosme'tic, and also take it internally, in minute doses, in water, to stimulate the stomach. It seems to have been as highly esteemed by the ancient inhabitants of Syria as it is by the modern Turks and Arabs. Jo-sephus states that the balm of Gilead was one of the trees given by the queen of Sheba to King Solomon. - The abies balsamea, which furnishes Canada balsam, and the populus bal-samifera, var. candicans, the buds of which are covered with a resinous varnish, are both sometimes known as balm of Gilead trees.