Styrax benzoin, S. tonkinensis, S. officinalis (Styracaceae)
The genus Styrax consists of tropical and sub-tropical trees, the most famous being the Benjamin tree, S. benzoin, yielding benzoe (resina benzoe). The resin is obtained from cuts in the bark, after the bark has been intentionally damaged by repeated strokes. Already before the beginning of the Christian era, the Arabs introduced benzoe to the Middle East as an incense ingredient. The resins from S. tonkinensis and S. officinalis are rather similar.
The main ingredients of these fragrant resins are benzoic- and cinnamic acid and esters thereof, e.g. cinnamyl cinnamate, also called styracine, sweetened by small amounts of vanillin. The alcoholic extracts, called resinoids, are used in perfumery for balsamic nuances and as fixatives.
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