balsam, fragrant resin obtained from various trees. The true balsams are semisolid and insoluble in water, but they are soluble in alcohol and partly so in hydrocarbons. They contain benzoic or cinnamic acid; these include Peru balsam and tolu balsam (both obtained from varieties of the South American tree Myroxylon balsamum of the pulse family), benzoin, and storax. Other resins called balsams include Mecca balsam (balm of Gilead), Canada balsam, and copaiba. Balsams are often used in medical preparations and perfumes.
balsam, garden, common name for the species Impatiens balsamina, a member of the jewelweed family.

Aromatic resinous substance that flows from a plant, either spontaneously or from an incision, and is used chiefly in medicinal preparations. Some of the more aromatic varieties are used in incense. Balsam of Peru, a fragrant, thick, deep brown or black fluid used in perfumes, is a true balsam, from a lofty leguminous tree, Myroxylon pereirae, native to and introduced into Sri Lanka. Balsam of Tolu (Colombia) is used in perfumes and in cough syrups and lozenges; it hardens with age. Canada balsam and Mecca balsam are not true balsams.

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Balsam is a term used for various pleasantly scented plant products. An oily or gummy oleoresin, usually containing benzoic acid or cinnamic acid, obtained from the exudates of various trees and shrubs and used as a base for some botanical medicines. They may be obtained from:

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