HOME      •      SEARCH      •      EMAIL    •     ABOUT

Family Burseraceae
Canarium luzonicum (Blume) A. Gray

Scientific names  Common names
Canarium album Blanco                 [Illegitimate] Alañgi (Ilk) 
Canarium carapifolium G. Perkins Alanki (Ilk) 
Canarium luzonicum (Blume) A. Gray Antang (Ibn)
Canarium oliganthum Merr. Anteng (Ilk) 
Canarium polyanthum G.Perkins  Bakan (Ting.) 
Canarium triandrum  Engl. Bakoog (Ilk)
Pimela luzonica  Blume Unresolved Basiad (Tag) 
  Belis (Tag) 
  Bulau (Pang) 
  Malapili (Bik) 
  Pagsahingin (Tag) 
  Pili (Tag., Bik., Bis., Ibn.)
  Piling liitan (Tag) 
  Pilauai (Tag) 
  Pisa (Tag) 
  Sahing (Tag.)
  Tugtugin (Tag.)
  Chinese olive (Engl.)
  Elemi (Engl.)
  Manila Elemi (English) 
Both Canarium luzonicum and C. ovatum are locally known as pili. The Manila elemi of commerce is derived from both species.
There is a confusing sharing of common names and scientific names between Canarium ovatum (pili) and Canarium luzonicum (sahing).
Some compilations attribute the scientific name Canarium asperum subsp. asperum to pagsahinigin or sahing.
Canarium luzonicum (Blume) A.Gray is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
FRENCH: Arbre à baume, Élémi de Manille, Élémi sauvage.
GERMAN: Manilaelemi, Manilaelemibaum.
JAPANESE: Manira eremi.
MALAY: Kedongdong, Kenari.
PORTUGUESE: Elemi de Manilha.
SPANISH: Arbol a brea, Brea blanca.

Gen info
Canarium belongs to the family Burseraceae with 75 known genera and about 550 species.

Of the canarium species, there are 75 known and nine of which are found in the Philippines, with at least four of economic importance: Canarium ovatum (Pili), C. indicum, C. album, and C. luzonicum (Sahing,Manila elemi).

Resin called elemi is obtained from members of the family Bursecraceae, particularly Canarium, Dacryodes, and Protium. As with other resins grouped as balsams, elemis are more viscous than oleoresins, semisolid, and very fragrant. Its soft and malleable nature comes from its liquid sesquiterpenes. The resin is primarily from volatile sesquiterpenes and non-volatile triterpenes.

Although "elemi" used to be generically applied to a large number of oleoresins from several botanical species and geographical origins, it is now used to describe Manila elemi, from Canarium luzonicum, one of the best known and single largest source of the world's supply of elemi. Manila elemi is a soft and fragrant oleoresin, oily, paie yellow to greenish, of honey consistency, balsamic in odor and bitter tasting.

The elemi tree is related to frankincense, myrrh and opoponax, all belonging to the Burseraceae family. When lacerated, the bark yields a sharp, green, and pungent, white or yellow oleoresin. (9)

The trees can be tapped throughout the year in Philippine rain forests. However, the wet season yields a greater flow of oleoresin. Tappers cut into the trunk using the "bolo", a local machete, and strips of bark are removed every few days to stimulate the flow of the exudate. (9)

The collected oleoresin is cleansed of debris before undergoing steam distillation. The yield is 15% to 25% essential oil. (9)

Elemi has properties and uses similar to Frankincense; ergo, also referred to as "Poor Man's Frankincense." source

France has been the largest single market, followed by Germany, and increasingly by Japan.

Sahing is a large tree reaching a height of more than 30 meters, the trunk a meter or more. Leaves are alternate, pinnate, and about 30 centimeters long, commonly with three opposite pairs and a terminal leaflet. The leaflets are smooth, oblong-ovate, 12 to 20 centimeters long, 3 to 7 centimeters wide, smooth and shiny on both sides, pointed at the apex, rounded or obtusely pointed at the base. Flowers are clustered and borne on large compounded inflorescences. Fruit is ovoid, 4 to 5 centimeters long, 2 to 2.5 centimeters wide, smooth, with a single seed.

- Common in primary forests at low and medium altitudes from northern Luzon (Cagayan) to Mindoro, Ticao, and Masbate.
- Classified by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as "vulnerable." (7)

• Oleoresin (Manila Elemi), d-alpha-phellandrene, dipentene, sesquiterpine alcohol, elemicin, trimethyl homogallic aldehyde, trimethyl homogallic acid, d-limonene, terpene, terpinolene, pinene.
• Major constituents of essential oil are (+)-limonene, elemol, α-phellandrene, elemicin, p-cymene, α-pinene, 1,8-cineole, dipentene, terpineol, and other minor constituents.
• Study on the composition of Manila elemi oil from the distillation of elemi gum yielded 39 compounds constituting 99.2% of the oil with limonene, the most abundant at 56%.

Manila elemi yields: d-a-phellandrene, diterpene, d-limonene, terpinene, terpinolene, terpene, sesquiterpene alcohol, elemicin, trimethyl homogallic aldehyde, trimethyl homogallic acid, and pinene. Roots yield 7.8% tannin. Seed (kernel) has a fixed oil, canariol, with triolein 51%, tristearin 12%, trimyristin 37%, laurin, protein 12.24 %, fat 56.12 to 65.73 percent, etc. (Q)

• Rubefacient and antirheumatic.
• Considered antiseptic, antispasmodic, antibacterial, fungicidal and insecticidal.

Parts utilized
Fruit and sap

- Seeds eaten raw or cooked.
- Nuts when roasted have a delicious flavor. Also used in confections, ice creams, as as adulterant to chocolate.
- For arthritis and rheumatism, oleoresin is applied over affected parts.
- For boils, abscesses, and furuncles, apply oleoresin over affected area to induce swelling to come a point.
- Used for burns and sores.
- For fevers and chills, the tree bark is struck with a bolo or sharp instrument to induce the sap to bleed. The tree sap is allowed to hardened overnight and a corn-sized drop is taken with water.
- The tree bark is commonly used for postpartum baths, one of many ingredients in a decoction (balat ng buboy, palad ng buli, dahon ng payang-payang, galamay amo, and three pieces of batong buhay). Also see: Suob
- In plaster, heated and applied to the chest to stop severe coughing.
Marketed as Lysout, a natural anti-lice foaming gel composed of: Echinacea purpurea 10%, Canarium luzonicum gum oil 2%.
Perfumery: Used to scent soaps and cosmetics.
Ingredient in making incense sticks.
Aromatherapy: Elemi essential oil is considered to have a stimulating, energizing, strengthening, cleansing, and clarifying action. It is also considered antiseptic and antimicrobial. (9)

- Genotoxicity: In a 1985 review, of 138 medicinal plant preparations used in the Philippines, 12 exhibited detectable genotoxicity, including Canarium luzonicum. (3)
- Mutagenic:
The oleoresin of Canarium luzonicum has been identified in studies as mutagenic. (5) Of 138 medicinal plant preparations used in the Philippines, only 12, including Canarium luzonicum, exhibited detectable genotoxicity in any system. (10)
- Antifungal / Essential Oil: Study evaluated the chemical composition and antifungal activity of four essential oils from the Burseraceae family- two Boswellia carterii Flueck oils, Canarium luzonicum and Commiphora myrrh oils. GC-FID and GC/MS analysis showed the essential oil components were a-pinene (23.04% and 31.84%), limonene (45.62%) and curzerene (34.65%), respectively. All tested Candida spp. clinical isolates and ATCC strains showed dose-dependent susceptibility to the tested essential oils. (8)
• Radical Scavenging / Phenolic Content: Study for DPPH radical scavenging activity and total phenolic content yielded 11.83 ± 0.013% and 7.58 ± 0.530 µg GAE/5mg essential oil/ml, respectively.   (11)


- Commercial and wild-crafted.
- Essential oils and Elemi oil in the cybermarket.

Updated June 2017 / August 2013

Photos ©Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Elemibaum. Canarium commune / File:Koeh-171.jpg / Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen / 1897 / Wikipedia

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
The Composition of Manila Elemi Oil / Merle A. Villanueva and Rosalinda C. Torres / FLAVOUR AND FRAGRANCE JOURNAL, VOL. 8, 35-37 (1993)
Plant Resins: Chemistry, Evolution, Ecology
Mutagenic and Antimutagenic Activities in Philippine Medicinal and Food Plants / Clara Y Lim-Sylianco and W Thomas Shier / Summary • Toxin Reviews, 1985, Vol. 4, No. 1, Pages 71-105 / DOI 10.3109/15569548509014414
Sorting Canarium names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 - 2000 The University of Melbourne.
Medicinal Uses Of Selected Fruit Trees And Woody Perennials / Saturnina Halos / Journal of Tropical Medicinal Plants, Vol 5, No2.
Canarium luzonicum / Synonyms / The Plant List
Canarium luzonicum / The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Sensitivity of clinical isolates of Candida to essential oils from Burseraceae family / Miloš Nikolic, Marija Smiljkovic, Tatjana Markovic, Ana Cirica, Jasmina Glamoclija, Dejan Markovic,  and Marina Sokovic* / EXCLI J. 2016; 15: 280–289.  / doi:  10.17179/excli2014-621
Elemi Essential Oil / Quinessence
Mutagenic and Antimutagenic Activities in Philippine Medicinal and Food Plants
/ Clara Y. Lim-sylianco & W. Thomas Sier /
Journal of Toxicology: Toxin Reviews, Vol 4, Issue 1 (1985) / http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/15569548509014414
DPPH Free-Radical Scavenging Activity, Total Phenolic Contents and Chemical Composition Analysis of Forty-Two Kinds of Essential Oils / CHIA-WEN LIN, CHIA-WEN YU, SUNG-CHUAN WU AND KUANG-HWAY YIH* / Journal of Food and Drug Analysis, Vol. 17, No. 5, 2009, Pages 386-395


It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

HOME      •      SEARCH      •      EMAIL    •     ABOUT