Populus balsamifera from which this Balm of Gilead is sourced is the name given to several plants belonging to different taxonomic families.
The historic Old World buds, or, as they are perhaps better known, Mecca Balsam, come from a small evergreen tree ( Commiphora gileadensis, also once called Commiphora opobalsamum ) of the family Burseraceae which belongs to the family of trees used to produce incense. It is native to Africa and Asia and the source of the commercial Balm of Gilead; it is referred to in the Bible in Jer. 8.22. The Ishmaelites from Gilead were bearing balm when they bought Joseph from his brothers.
Balm of Gilead is still in high repute for healing in some countries. The American balm buds (which this product is) is a species of poplar
(Populus candicans or balsaifera ) of the family Salicaceae ( willow family ) which has large balsamic and fragrant buds. The tree is seldom seen in the wild but was once and formerly a favourite dooryard tree of the northern states.
Traditional Uses for Balm of Gilead:-
The buds and the tincture made from them was used in domestic medicine, particularly for urinary tract infections but it is more genuinely used nowadays for its particular fragrance.
This poplar is closely related to, and sometimes considered a variety of, the balsam poplar (P. tacamahaca), which has also been called balm of Gilead and tacamahac. The name balm of Gilead has also been used for the balsam fir and for a herbaceous aromatic, shrubby plant ( Dracocephalum canariense or Cedronella canariensis ) of the family Labiatae ( mint family) native to the Canary Islands and cultivated in parts of the United States.