Boswellia hesperia

A new species of Boswellia for Socotra, yet to be confirmed and accepted scientifically. It has a very limited range, and all individuals are heavily browsed by goats. It has not yet been determined the full growth potential of this species, but ongoing protection by a local family, awaiting a fence to protect the population on their land, will provide some answers. In the meantime they have built hollow cairns around many of them, which has resulted in amazing growth inside.

This species has the same challenges as the Boswelllia nana on Socotra’s northeastern limestone plateau, where no individuals have escaped the goats, and are but gnarly prostrate oddities.

Key characters: dense and whitish indumentum of the lower leaf surface; strongly crenate-undulate margin.

Baldini, R. M. (2020). Mats Thulin – The Genus Boswellia (Burseraceae). The Frankincense Trees. Webbia, 75(1), 133–134. https://doi.org/10.36253/jopt-9299.

As this is the southern coast of Socotra it is governed by the southwestern monsoon of the summer months, where the land is refreshed with dense fog and mist. The high number of lichens found here is a testament to this annual moisture.

This winter has been exceptionally wet mostly due to cyclone Tej that hit Socotra 22 October 2023. As the winter is the time of northeastern monsoon, this area is normally in the rain shadow of the Haghier mountains. Due to cyclone Tej, and likely El Niño, I experienced a landscape with vibrant plants in full growth. I even experienced rain showers during my stay, but they barely had any rain left when reaching the southern coast, so the time of plenty was already at and end it seemed.

This individual is already showing signs of water shortage and is about to shed its leaves.

Elevation: 409 meters.

There are at least 9 species of Boswellia on Socotra, and they are all endemic.

This is the complete list of all the 10 accepted Boswellia species found in the Socotra Archipelago:

Boswellia ameero
Boswellia asplenifolia
Boswellia bullata
Boswellia dioscoridis
Boswellia elongata
Boswellia nana
Boswellia popoviana
Boswellia scopulorum
Boswellia socotrana

Found only on the island of Samha:
Boswellia samhaensis

In addition there are numerous hybrids and varieties that will keep botanists busy.

Read more:
The challenges in seed regeneration of the endemic Boswellia species on Socotra.

A summary of 13 research papers spanning twenty years of biodiversity research and nature conservation in the Socotra Archipelago.

Boswellia hesperia

Last updated on 23 February 2024