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Balm of gilead buds.

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They're brown, compact, and very very resiny.

They're the spring-picked leaf buds of balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera and other equally resinously-budded species)

I bought this lot from the US:

Photo: Populus balsamifera. Pic: Dried balm of gilead buds.

These look a lot different from the "balm of gilead buds" I bought from an UK herbal bulk house a few years ago.

Different as in, that lot was sweepings from under a flowering poplar. The ones in the photo are the real thing.

Those sweepings: they looked very much like somebody who didn't have a clue about balm of gilead buds thought that flower buds were asked for, instead of leaf buds; that person was also too lazy to get the "buds" from the trees, preferring to sweep up things underneath them instead. It's far faster, I grant you, but neither flowers on the tree nor sweepings underneath are balm of gilead buds.

The UK herbal house in question had a checkbox which said "[ ] Quality Control" on all their labels.

The checkbox was ticked.

I called them up, of course, to ask what this ... stuff ... was supposed to be, and got a reply that, yes, we know that this is not balm of gilead bud, but we can't get the real thing.

To which I asked, why then not say that you can't get the real thing, instead of blowing your reputation on a substitution such as this, which isn't even close to what it's supposed to be?


After that I've done without balm of gilead buds. Except now, cos I ordered some herbs from the US instead of the UK.

What do I use them for? They work pretty much like meadowsweet in reducing pain externally, but they go deeper, much like a combination of meadowsweet and cayenne.

And they will preserve most any oil indefinitely, but that oil will smell of balm of gilead buds.