Species Copaifera officinalis L., C. langsdorfii Desf., C. guianensis Desf. common in the tropical rainforests of South America (Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Guiana), Copaifera copallifera (Benn.) Milne-Redhead – in West Africa, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Sudan, Guinea. Cultivated.

Large trees (up to 20 m tall) or tree-like shrubs. Leaves are alternate, paired. White, small flowers are collected in dense, branched panicles.

Resin ducts form an anastomosing network in the bark and wood. For extraction, incisions are made in the trunk, the balm flows out quickly and plentifully. One tree can give up to 40 liters of thick consistency balm. The smell is peculiar, balsamic; bitter, pungent taste.

Balsam (Balsamum Copaivae) contains 40-60% essential oil, consisting of various sesquiterpenes (mainly caryophyllene), and an acidic resin, which, when the balm is heated, remains in the form of a hard, brittle mass. The resin consists of resin acids of the composition C 20 H 30 O 2 (copaic acid), C 23 H 34 O 4 (metacopaic acid).

It is used for gonorrhea, and sometimes the balm is combined with other drugs (cubeba, sandal). Copay balm was one of the first specific drugs to kill gonococcus in gonorrhea. It is currently used as a diuretic and laxative. It is prescribed in gelatin capsules.

All copals (commercial name) are of great technical importance. From Trachylobium verrucosum (Gaerth.) Oliver (Hymenala verrucosa Gaertns), which grows in East Africa and neighboring islands, “Zanzibar copal” is obtained by tapping. This copal also contains gum; goes to obtain the highest grades of drying oil.

The plant contains balsams (oil-resins).



Like essential oils, resins are complex mixtures of various organic compounds. In plants, they are often present simultaneously with essential oils, but may be accompanied by substances from other groups of natural compounds – gums, tannins, sterols, sometimes rubber.

According to the primary composition, there are three main groups of natural resins:

– resins (actually) – Rsina;

– oil-resin, or balms, – Olea-resina, or Balsama. These are liquid resins, which are natural solutions of resins in their own essential oil;

– gum resins – Gummi-resina. These are liquid (in living plants) mixtures of gums and resins dissolved in essential oil (more precisely, Cummi-olea-resina).

The resins themselves, freed from accompanying substances, like the components of essential oils, are also terpenoids, but more complex, belonging mainly to the class of diterpenes (C 20 H 32 ).

Resin hydrocarbons (for example, pimaradiene), their oxygen derivatives, resinol or resin acids (for example, abietic and pimaric acids) and resinol or resin alcohols (for example, cafestol) are distinguished among resin diterpenes.


Among the resinols, rezitannols or tannols, which have the properties of tannins, are distinguished into a special group. Resinols can form esters.

The constituent substances of resins can be triterpene acids and alcohols – derivatives of a- and b-amirin (for example, mastic tree), lignans (for example, guaiac resin), etc.

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