Trivia Frankincense is a sweet - smelling gum resin derived from certain Boswellia trees, which at the time of Christ grew in Arabia, India, and Ethiopia. Tradition says that it was presented to the Christ Child by Balthasar, the black King from Ethiopia or Saba. The frankincense trade was at its height during the days of the Roman Empire. At that time this resin was considered as valualble as gems or precious metals. The Romans burned frankincense on their alters and at cremations.