Copal of Bursera (Burseraceae): extraction and marketing chain in central México

Date and Time: 
Tuesday, 13 May 2014 - 2:00pm to 2:20pm
Author(s): 
LINARES, Edelmira - Jardín Botánico del Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Cd. México, DF, México
Robert BYE - Jardín Botánico del Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Cd. México, DF, México

The fragrant copal is a resin extracted from various species of Bursera in several Mexican states. Since pre-Hispanic times, various cultures employed it in their rituals. Today copal continues to be a part of civil and religious ceremonies. Regional markets were sampled in the southern state of Mexico and adjacent Morelos; major attention was given to Ozumba market. Open interviews were conducted with collectors and vendors in order to determine: antiquity of their activities, market chains, and uses.

We found 8 types of natural copal as well as 2 synthetic resins. The market chain is based upon personal relationships between the collectors and traders that have developed over 100 years at annual fairs, where the wholesale price is fixed each year. Five classes of copal traders are present in Ozumba. Copal extraction requires urgent attention. Copal collectors cite decreased production due principally to diminishing number of productive trees.