A large and beautiful tree with a valuable wood similar to mahogany, and a straight smooth trunk. Leaves are alternate pinnate leaflets. Every part of the tree including the leaves is abundant in a resinous juice.
Often planted as a shade tree on coffee plantations, Balsam Peru comes from the Myroxylon tree, which literally means "fragrant wood".
“Balsam Peru” is a misleading misnomer. It acquired this name because the wood was collected in Central America and then shipped to Peru, on its way to Europe. Indigenous use ultimately led this species to be exported to Europe, It was then first documented in the 17th century in the German Pharmacopedia.
Today, El Salvador is the main exporter of Balsam Peru.