Monday, June 25, 2007

Fragrant tree extraction process liberates essential oils

Fragrant tree extraction process liberates essential oils

Vietnamese scientists have single-handedly increased the value of the Eaglewood tree by extracting its essential oils, which can be used in everything form pharmaceutics and medicines to cosmetics.
Scientists at the Ho Chi Minh City Institute of Chemistry Sciences have discovered how to obtain the essential oil by a supercritical fluid CO2 extraction process using the tree, scientific name Aquilaria Agallocha, Aquilaria agallwha Roxb, or Agarwood (or Do Bau in Vietnamese).
It takes around 30-45 minutes to complete extraction of a batch of Do bau essentials oil, which can be sold at a price of US$10,000 – 14,000 per liter.
The process consists of pumping pressurized carbon dioxide into a chamber filled with plant matter. When carbon dioxide is subjected to pressure it becomes ‘supercritical’ and has liquid properties while remaining in a gaseous state.
Because of the liquid properties of the gas, the CO2 functions as a solvent, it pulls the oils and other substances such as pigment and resin from the plant matter. The temperature involved in the supercritical extraction process is around 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 C degrees).
Currently, Vietnam has around 8,000 hectares of eaglewood trees spanning from the north to the south, with the area to be expanded by about 4,000 hectares a year.
The eaglewood tree matures after ten years and during the period, it requires a total investment of VND380 million ($23,750) to take care of one hectare, normally with 1,000 trees.
Besides being used as a herbal treatment, eaglewood essential oil could also be used in processing perfume, and aroma therapy.
Reported by Quang Thuan – Translated by Minh Phat

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Oudh (Aquilaria Agallocha)

Agarwood tree is one of the precious gift of nature to the mankind, its sweet fragnance has no parallel in the world. It belongs to the genus Aquilaria of family Thymeleaceae. The genus Aquilaria agallocha, Aquilaria malaccensis and Aquilaria khasiana in the North East India of which Aquilaria agallocha. The agarwood (black resinous wood) or 'agaru' and agar oil (the essential oil) or agar attar are the most exalted perfumery raw materials obtained from the infected wood of this Aquilaria spp. The agar wood oil or aloe wood oil, known in the east as agar attar is obtained by distilling selected parts of the infected wood of Aquilaria spp. The oil is one of the perfumery's oldest materials used in high-class perfumery and as a fixative, imparting a lasting balasamic odour to the product.
The use of 'agaru' is pre-historic. The Aloe wood as in the Bible was the heartwood of Aquilaria ovata and Aquilaria agallocha. The Aloes referred to in the Bible was evidently a very aromatic plant and most probably the agarwood. There are mentions of the use of Aloe wood (Udul-Hind) in Paradise as incense in the famous Ahadith-Sahi Al-Bukhari. There are mentions of 'agaru' of ancient Kamrup in the report of Chinese Pilgrim Hiuen-Tsang, Abhijnanam Sakuntalam of Kalidas, and Arthosasthra of Koutilya. The first historical biographies in Sanskrit the Harshacharita written by Bana in 652 AD states tha tthe presents sent by Bhaskaravarman to Harsha included among other things, voulmes of fine writings in leaves made of aloe bark (bark of agar plant) and black aloe oil. There is mention in the Sabhaparvan of the Mahabharata that in the course of Digvijaya Bhimsena went to Pragjyotish and recevied sandalwood and aloewood (agaru) as presents. The Nowgong grant of Balavarman gives a graphic description of Pragjyotishanagara where arecanut trees were wrapped in leaves of creeper or betel-plants and Krishnaguru (Telegu or Tamil name of Agarwood) or black aloe-wood trees were surrounded with cardamom creepers.
After Conquering the capital of last king Gaur Govind in 1384 A.D. in Sylhet Saint Fakir Shah Jalal (RA) and his followers found agar wood and agar attar along with many other valuables in the Royal store. This indicates that distillation of agar oil was done during thirteen century or even early in India. Abul Fazal Allami in his Ain-I-Akbari (memoir of Emperor Akbar) written in about 1590 AD. gave a vivid description of agarwood and agar oil along with their manufacturing process and uses. It is also said that Mughal invaded Assam mainly for'agaru'.
From Kamrup 'agaru' had been exported to the Middle East from time immemorial may be by the Chinese traders through the Silk road which extended from China to Middle-East through Kamrup and then India. During those days in Kamrup 'Agaru' and Chandan (Santalum album L.) were the main items of cosmetics as there are mentions of these two articles in different old scriptures of Kamrup like Ramayan translated by Madhava Kandali. The 15th century Saint-Reformer and Literary Giant Sri Sankardev used bark of the tree as 'Sanchipat' for writing religious scripts which is still being preserved in many places. In a devotional verse, he described the 'Agaru' and the Chandan plant as divine, capable of fulfulling human desires. In folk songs also there are mentions of 'agaru'.
During 1900 plentiful extraction of the perfumed wood (agaru) was done in various parts of undivided Assam. Assam 'agaru' used to go to Calcutta and from there to Turkey, Arabia, Parsia and Europe. At present Indian 'agaru' is largely exported to Arab countries where it is used as incense and also in the manufacture of joss sticks.
It is a large to medium evergreen tree 15-20 m high, sometimes grow upto 40 m high as is found in Barak Valley, 1.5-2.5 m girth with a moderately straight and often fluted stem. Leaves 5-9 cm long, thinly cariaceous, oblong lanceolate; floweres white or green to dirty yello in terminal, sessile or shortly peduncled umbellate cymes. The tree regenerates freely by seeds. The fungus infected trees furnish the agarwood or eaglewood of commerce which occurs as dark coloured resinous fragrant masses in the center of the bole and branches. The normal (uninfected) wood is soft, light and elastic. It is white to pale yelloish white and has no particular odour.
The tree becomes valuable only after getting infected by a particular fungus or group of fungi, ceases to grow and become sick in the population stand. The agar oil or 'Agaru' is thus a product of disease caused by certain fungus. The infection occurs when stem is injured or bored by larvae of a particular stem borer (Zeuzera conferta Walker) belonging to the family Lepidoptera. These borers make vertical tunnels (hollow and zigzag) inside the tree trunk and thus the surface of the tunnels become the initial sites for infections. Later on infections spread on all sides slowly and gradually and ultimately a larger wood volume become infected.
Infection may also occur due to mechanical or natural injuries on the stem or branches. Due ot infections oleoresins are accumulated in the infected wood and later become odoriferous. At the inital stage infection appears as brown streaks in the tissue. Accumulation of oleoresin goes on increasing with the increase of infection area, as well as aging of infection. More oleoresin deposits which results increase in the depth of colour of infected wood and finally it become brown to black. Heavy and old age infection may lead to death of the plant. thus, the yield of 'agaru' depends on insect-fungal interaction on the host plant since there is no special cells or glands to synthesize the oil, as found in other essential oil bearing plants.

The Hidden History of Scented Wood

Written by Eric Hansen
Several years ago, in the perfume and incense market in the old city of Sana'a in Yemen, I caught sight of a large apothecary jar full of wood chips. The jar sat on a dusty shelf, tucked away in a dark corner of the stall owned by Mohammed Hamoud al-Kalagi. When I asked him to show me its contents, he placed the jar on the front counter and pulled out a chip of wood. Mohammed called the wood 'ud (pronounced ood), a name I did not recognize, but it looked very familiar. I could hardly contain my growing sense of excitement as I examined it closely.
Mohammed placed a tiny sliver of the wood on the end of a lit cigarette. Within moments we were inhaling a rich, sweet, woody fragrance that I had first smelled in the Borneo rain forest 15 years earlier. At that time, I was traveling with a group of nomadic hunter-gatherers known as Penan. We were looking for herbs used in traditional medicine, but one day the Penan cut down a tree and collected pockets of fragrant wood from within the trunk and branches. They called these dark patches of wood gaharu. I rubbed a small piece of gaharu between my palms to warm it, and it smelled like cedar and sandalwood, but with subtle fragrance notes of roses and balsam. For years I had wondered what the wood was used for and where it was sent after leaving Borneo. The Penan thought gaharu might be used in Chinese medicine, because it was the upriver Chinese traders that bought it, but apart from that, they were mystified as to why anyone would want to buy those gnarly bits of wood.
Mohammed al-Kalagi, who thought that 'ud came only from India, was the first person to help me begin to unravel the long and convoluted history of this scented wood. He told me it was burned as incense throughout the Islamic world, and an oil was extracted from it that retailed for nearly $20 a gram ($500 an ounce) as a perfume.
When I told Mohammed that the gaharu collectors in Borneo considered the wood to have only a modest barter value, he laughed and recited lines that he attributed to the eighth-century Egyptian jurist and poet Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi'i:
Gold is just dust when still in the ground.
And 'ud, in its country of origin,
Is just another kind of firewood.
A few days after my visit, I walked through the narrow streets of old Sana'a to the home of Yemeni friends. The family lived in a tastefully restored stone tower house in the Turkish Quarter, and during the meal that night I discovered that 'ud has domestic uses beyond simple incense: A small chip placed amid the tobacco in the bowl of the mada'ah, or water pipe, sweetens the smoke and keeps the pipe fresh. And although 'ud is generally considered more of a man's scent, it is also used by women who place bits of the wood in a mabkharah, a small, hand-held charcoal brazier used to scent clothes; it is also used to perfume hair and skin. My host explained that at women's get-togethers it would be considered strange not to pass around a mabkharah of smoldering 'ud or other incense so the female guests could perfume themselves.
"When you walk by a woman on the street and you smell 'ud, you know that she is from a good family," the husband told me. "It is a sign of wealth, good breeding, refinement and status."
Similarly, when Yemeni men congregate, it is customary for them to pass around a mabkharah of 'ud. Each man opens his jacket and censes his shirt and underarms, then his face and his mashedah, or head scarf, if he is wearing one. The mabkharah is always passed counter-clockwise, and each man wafts the smoke onto himself and says, "God's blessings and peace on the Prophet Muhammad." 'Ud is burned ceremonially at weddings, too, and the oil is sometimes used to perfume the body of the dead before burial.
In Yemen, the price and quality of 'ud varies considerably: At an average wedding party in Sana'a it is considered appropriate to spend about $30 to $50 by burning 50 or 100 grams (two or three ounces) of one of the less expensive grades of 'ud, but for the well-heeled, 30 grams (a single ounce) of a superior grade can set one back $250 to $300.
Before I left the dinner party that night, my host placed a tiny drop of 'ud oil on the front of my shirt and explained that the fragrance would survive several washings—which it did. 'Ud oil is often placed on older men's beards or younger men's jacket lapels so that during the traditional cheek-to-cheek greetings its sweet, woody scent dominates.
Although the southern Arabian Peninsula has been long identified with aromatics, few Westerners are familiar with 'ud, a word that means simply "wood" in Arabic. This obscurity is partly due to 'ud rarity and cost, but it is also a matter of varying taste and differing cultural traditions. During the Hajj, for example, Muslim pilgrims from around the world come to Makkah and Madinah, where many are introduced to the scent of 'ud, which is burned in the Great Mosque as well as in many other mosques throughout Saudi Arabia. 'Ud produces a fragrance that is not soon forgotten, and for this reason small packets of 'ud chips are a common souvenir to take home from the Hajj.
In various other places in the Islamic world, 'ud is burned to help celebrate the important events of everyday life. In Tunisia, for example, 'ud is burned on the third, seventh and 40th days following the birth of a child, a time when the mother traditionally remains at home while female relatives and friends come to visit.
Throughout Malaysia and Indonesia, 'ud is called by the name I first heard in Borneo, gaharu, a Malay word derived from the much older Sanskrit term agaru, meaning "heavy." The scented wood was given that name because, indeed, a high-quality piece of gaharu will sink in water. The Susruta Samhita, one of the "great three" texts of Ayurvedic medicine, describes how people of the Ganges plain used smoldering agaru for worship, as perfume and to fumigate surgical wounds. In those times, agaru came largely from the tree Aquilaria agallocha, which was found in the foothills of Assam.
In the 16th century, the Portuguese, who were actively trading in Goa, Malacca and Macao, adapted the word agaru to pao d'aguila, or "eagle wood"—which at least had a meaning in Portuguese, though there is no connection between eagles and 'ud. In the English-speaking world today, the most common terms for 'ud are aloeswood or agarswood; this last word preserves a clear link to the original Sanskrit.
The best grade of 'ud is hard, nearly black and very heavy. In general, 'ud becomes inferior as it appears lighter in tone, flecked with diminishing amounts of resin. The only truly reliable way to test for quality, however, is to burn a small bit and evaluate the complexity and richness of the smoldering wood. 'Ud oil can be taste-tested: Touch a bit to your tongue, and a bitter taste points to high quality.
Historians are uncertain when 'ud first reached the Middle East. There are several references to "aloes" in the Old Testament, and estimates by historians of China Friedrich Hirth and W.W. Rockhill put the date as far back as the 10th century BC. This was when King Solomon began trade with the south Arabian Sabaean kingdom, which was already trading with merchants on the Malabar (western) coast of India. (See Aramco World, March/April 1998.) Written accounts of Arab and Chinese travelers and merchants that mention it date to more recent times, approximately the first century of our era, a time of accelerating trade among the Arabian Peninsula, the Malabar coast and China that was made possible by the exploitation of the seasonal monsoon winds across the Indian Ocean. At this time, frankincense and myrrh from Oman and the Hadhramaut region of southern Arabia were being traded in the Far East, so it seems reasonable to assume that a reciprocal trade in 'ud would have traveled on the same maritime routes.
The Chinese role in the 'ud trade has been significant since the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), when Imperial perfume blenders used it along with cloves, musk, costus-root oil and camphor. Like the Indians, the Chinese named the wood for its density, calling it cb'en hsiang, "the incense that sinks in water." In those days, 'ud was sorted into as many as 20 different grades. Responding to the increasing domestic and international demand for 'ud, Chinese traders ventured into Annam, now part of Vietnam, where they found top-quality trees in abundance. This new source of supply allowed them to become wholesale dealers and middlemen, and to this day they retain this position worldwide.
Arab and Persian traders had established settlements on the outskirts of Canton as early as 300, and a Chinese traveler named Fa-Hien noted the riches of the Arab 'ud traders from the Hadhramaut and Oman who lived comfortably in Ceylon. The Greek geographer Cosmas Indicopleustes, writing in the sixth century, also noted that the China-Ceylon-Middle East trade included large shipments of 'ud.
In his book Silsilat al-Tawarikh (Chain of Chronicles), Zayd ibn Hassan of Siraf (now in Iran) tells of the experiences of two mnth-century traders, one Ibn Wahab of Basra and another named Suleyman. Although they traveled at slightly different times, both reported that the price and availability of 'ud in both Basra and Baghdad was much affected by frequent shipwrecks and by pirate attacks on trading ships. Their roughly similar routes went from the Arabian Gulf to the Maldives, Ceylon, the Nicobar Islands and then on to Canton by way of the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea. At the time, the round-trip took at least two years, for the traders had to wait for seasonal winds, and customs formalities and the complexities of doing business in China consumed a good deal of time. Hassan relates that in Canton, Suleyman saw Arab and Persian traders playing a board game that appears to have been similar to backgammon: Occasionally the playing pieces were made of rhinoceros horn or ivory, but most commonly they were carved from fragrant 'ud.
Reading up on the history of the 12th- and 13th-century Arab-Chinese sea trade, I also came upon the Chu-fan-chi, a trade manual written by Chau Ju-kua, who was a customs official in the southern Chinese province of Kwangtung in the mid-13th century. In the text he mentions that the search for 'ud had intensified to the point that it was being collected from Hainan Island, parts of present-day Vietnam, lands about the Malay Peninsula, Cambodia and the islands of Sumatra and Java. By this time, he observed, it had become an established custom for well-to-do Muslims to wake up, bathe and perfume themselves with 'ud smoke before going to the mosque for the morning prayer.
In the early 14th century, Ibn Battuta described a visit to Ceylon where during a visit to Sultan Ayri Shakarwati he was shown "a bowl as large as a man's hand, made of rubies, containing oil of aloes." Ibn Battuta also mentioned that in Muslim lands every 'ud tree was private property, and that the best trees grew in Qamara, or Cambodia. (See Saudi Aramco World, July/August 2000.) In Saudi Arabia today, 'ud kambudi—Cambodian aloeswood—is still usually the most treasured and costly variety.
Isaac H. Burkill, in his 1935 Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula, described 'ud in scientific terms. It is an aromatic resin deposit found in certain species of Aquilaria trees, especially Aquilaria malaccensis, whose species name recalls the days when the 'ud trade was centered in Malacca and dominated by the Portuguese. Burkill explains that the resin is produced by the tree as an immune response to a fungus (Phialophora parasitica) that invades the tree and, over many years, spreads through it. It is these diseased sections of the tree that are collected by people in the jungles of Southeast Asia.
To better understand the modern trade cycle from Southeast Asia to Middle Eastern homes and mosques, I returned to Borneo and traveled upriver to talk again with the Penan tribesmen who make their living collecting 'ud, which they call gaharu.
The Penan, I learned, recognize seven types of gaharu. To collect it they paddle up small tributaries by dugout canoe, and then climb the slopes of remote mountains to locate the best trees. A gathering journey can take a week or more. Once a likely looking pohon kayu gaharu (a "gaharu-wood tree") has been found, they make a series of shallow, exploratory cuts into its trunk, branches and roots; they cut it down only when they are persuaded the tree has the fungus and will yield a reasonable amount of good gaharu. If the tree contains only low grades of gaharu, they will often let it grow for another few years before retesting it. If they do decide to cut it down, they will spend days extracting the gaharu and cleaning it with smaller knives. Traditionally, the Penan used gaharu themselves to treat stomach aches and fevers, and as an insect repellent, but now they sell or trade all they find.
In the backwaters of Borneo, the Penan sell the very best gaharu for about $400 a kilogram, or approximately $12 an ounce. They usually sell to local Chinese traders who stockpile it until they have enough to send to wholesalers and bigger middlemen in Singapore. The Penan claim that gaharu is getting more difficult to find because large-scale logging operations have destroyed many of the hill forests where the gaharu trees are found. If a Penan group has good luck, it might collect a kilo (35 oz) of average-quality gaharu in three or four days—but it is increasingly common for them to return with nothing, or with only the lowest grades.
Thirty years ago Hong Kong played an important role in the 'ud trade, but today the international hub is Singapore. There, the wholesale business is dominated by Chinese traders who receive 'ud from agents scattered across Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand, Borneo, Hainan Island and, most recently, Irian Jaya, Indonesia. C. P. Ng, owner of Buan Mong Heng, a emporium on North Bridge Road, is Singapore's undisputed 'ud king. He tells me that his best 'ud sells for $5000 to $10,000 per kilogram ($2275-$4545/lb). At present, the rarest and most expensive type, known as Keenam, comes from Vietnam; it must be stored in a cool place to keep its scent from deteriorating. In Irian Jaya alone, he says, more than 50,000 part-time collectors supply some 30 collection centers. Throughout the Chinese community in Singapore, he says, people use 'ud as incense in the home, for worship and during marriage ceremonies. He also explains that it can be taken with herbs to cure a stomach ache, and that the sweet smell is a cure for insomnia. "A tea made from 'ud will warm the body and restore youthful vigor to older men," he says.
In Singapore, 'ud is graded in descending quality from Super AA, which is weighed out on a jeweler's scale, to Super A, Super, and lesser grades numbered 1 through 8. The lowest quality, called kandulam in Malay, is used to make incense sticks; it sells for roughly three cents a gram ($1 per oz). The value of 'ud shipped out of Singapore each year has been estimated to exceed $1.2 billion.
In the Middle East and in Borneo I never saw more than small amounts of 'ud, amounting to a few pounds at most, but Singapore was different. There I visited the Nk Kittai warehouse, where cardboard boxes packed with 'ud reached tall ceilings and wheelbarrows and shovels were the tools of choice to move quantities that perfumed the entire surrounding neighborhood. The owner, C. F. Chong, waited on buyers from India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and even Japan. In Japan, 'ud is used in a complex fragrance guessing game called koh-do, part of the ceremonial appreciation of incense adopted from the Chinese, who still use the expression wenxiang, "listening to the incense."
The fragrance in the hot warehouse was overpowering, and as I wandered the narrow aisles surrounded by a fortune in scented wood, I saw 'ud logs as thick as my thigh and nearly three meters (10') long. Workers sat on the floor cleaning up pieces of 'ud with modified rubber-tapping knives. When I remarked that it must be a risk to store so much 'ud in one place, Chong replied that he, like other dealers, kept his very best 'ud locked up in vaults.
Out on the warehouse floor, buyers specified the type of 'ud they wanted by region and quality, and then a worker would dump a pile at the buyer's feet so that he could hand-select the individual pieces. "This is an on-the-spot business," said Chong. "Each piece has to be evaluated."
Each buyer's selection was weighed, and as all of the buyers that morning were old customers, only a minimal amount of haggling led to an agreement on a price. Nobody, it seemed, bought more than he could easily carry by hand, and each parcel was tied up for stowage as in-flight baggage. The visits concluded with tea and soft drinks in Chong's air-conditioned office.
Before leaving Singapore, I went to visit Haji V. Syed Mohammed. His shop, V. S. S. Varusai Mohamed & Sons, is just across the street from the Sultan Mosque. The store sells 'ud, perfume, money belts, cassette tapes, shawls, skull caps and highly decorative incense burners made in Bangladesh. While we were talking, he told me of one of the most renowned 'ud dealers in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates: Ajmal's Perfume Manufacturing & Oudh Processing Industry. It was a fortuitous meeting, for Dubai was my next stop.
In Dubai, there are entire streets lined with shops selling 'ud. Among them, the family-run Ajmal company is one of the largest dealers in pure and blended 'ud perfumes in all of the Middle East. From their 22 shops throughout the Arabian Peninsula, they sell 'ud oils from Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and their most extravagant creation is a blend of aged 'ud oils called Dahnal Oudh al-Moattaq. The price: $850 for a 30-gram (1-oz) bottle. This is out of the reach of all but the most affluent, but nearly everyone can afford to buy modest amounts of 'ud chips for daily use, rituals and ceremonies—which might include driving, for Dubai automotive shops sell clip-on electric braziers that plug into a car's cigarette lighter.
Because of the popularity of 'ud, its high price and the difficulty of collecting it from the wild, several companies in peninsular Malaysia and India have begun to look into the possibility of artificially introducing the 'ud fungus into Aquilaria trees in hopes of creating commercial 'ud plantations. Thousands of trees have been inoculated with the fungus and people are waiting to see if the 'ud will start to grow, and if perhaps they can even harvest it without cutting down the tree.
Nearly a year after my visits to Singapore and Dubai, another trip took me back to Borneo. I ran into a group of Penan friends at the riverside shop of Towkay Yong Khi Liang, a Hakka Chinese trader on the upper Limbang River in Sarawak. The Penan had just traded a kilo of low-quality 'ud for a few sacks of sago flour, a replacement part for a chainsaw, some cartons of tinned food, some rolling tobacco, several pairs of cheap tennis shoes and soft drinks for everyone present.
As we stood on the dock, the Penan asked me if I had ever found out what the people in the Middle East did with the gaharu. I told them what I had discovered about the history of its trade, and then I explained the long and complicated journey it makes before arriving on the other side of the world. I described the networks of middlemen, the refined grading techniques and the marketing efforts that multiplied the price 25 times or more before it reached the final customer. They listened patiently to these facts, but what they really wanted to find out was what people did with the wood after spending so much money on it.
I suspected that they wouldn't believe me, but I had to reveal the astonishing truth: I told them people buy 'ud so that they can take it home and burn it.


Botanical Name: Aquilaria agallochaCommon Name: Agar Wood, Aloes wood, Jinko, Oud, Agaru, Garu,Eagle Wood, Agila Wood, Chin-heang, Gaharu, Alambac, Calambour,Gaharu, Karas, Kekeras, Kepang, etc.Family: ThymelaeaceaeCultivars: A. malaccensis, A. beccariana, A. crassna, A. cumingiana, A.hirta, A. microcarpa, A. sinensis, A. rostrata, A. khasiana, A.subintegra, A. grandiflora, etcOrigin: SE-AsiaDistribution: India, Burma, Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia.Habitat: Primary or secondary forests on hill slopes or low lands, atlow or medium altitudes, and also in marginal soils near swamps.Habit: Evergreen Tree (18-20 mt height, 1.5-2.5 mt girth)Duration: Perennial (>80 years)Leaf: Long, coriaceous, elliptic or lanceolateFlower: White, green, or yellowish green scented flowers borne inapical or axillary, sessile or sub-sessile, umbels.Flowering Season: July-August and March-AprilFruit: Green, oval, capsule with leathery coat and fine hairs, enclosingtwo black seeds.Sunlight: FullWater Requirement: ModerateSoil Texture: Rocky or sandySoil pH: AcidicSalinity Tolerance: HighPropagation: Seed, root cuttings, air layering, tissue culture.Cultural Practices: Trees after being infected with a fungus - Phialophora parasitica (Ascomycetes) produce scented oleo-resin inthe heartwood of stems and roots. This can be noticed from trees ofabout 20 to 80 year old trees. The best wood is expected from 50year old tree. The presence of agar can be detected generallyby studying symptoms like poor tree crown development, swellings,depressions, or cankers on tree trunks. The formation of oleo-resincan be induced by artificial inoculation of fungus or by wounding treetrunks to get second grade agar wood.Economic Part: Bark, heartwood from stems & roots. Wood withoutresin is white, light and soft, while wood with resin is hard, dark andheavy.Crop Yield: About 6 to 9 kg of agar wood yield can be expectedfrom 80 year old tree.Chemistry: Agarwood contains more than 12 chemical componentsthat can be extracted. 3,4-dihydroxy-dihydroagarofuran,4-hydroxydihydroagarofuran, agarol, agarospirol, agarotetrol, alpha-agarofuran, aquillochin, benzylacetone, beta-agarofuran,dihydroagarofuran, dihydroxyagarofuran, gmelofuran, liriodenine,norketoagarofuran, noroxoagarofuran,oxo-nor-agarofuran, p-methoxybenzylacetone, p-methoxycinnamic-acid, oleoresinEconomic Value:

Agar wood gained great cultural and religious significance in ancient
civilizations around the world.

Agar wood is classified as Black Agar Wood (Grade-1), Brown Agar
Wood (Grade-2), Brownish Yellow Agar Wood (Grade-3) and Yellow Agar Wood (Grade-4).

Agar wood is used as a raw material in perfume and incense making

Natural carvings can be made from it by cutting out the wood
portion into special artistic shapes.

Agar wood bark was used as sachpat, a writing material immune to
insect attack used in writing religious scriptures.

Wood with or withour resin content has been used for boxes,
musical instruments, interior or veneer, etc.

The inner fibrous bark is used as a raw material for clothing, belts
and ropes.

This can be used as an anti-biotic preservative. It is the best
preservative in making high quality perfumes.

It was one the most important ingredients used in Egyptian

It can be dusted on clothes and skin as a repellant against fleas
and lice.

It has been used in painting formal attire of palaces in China and

Agar is said to relieve general pain, dental pain, to check vomiting,
as a venom repellent, and also as a medicine for kidney disorders and rheumatism.

Agar wood has been used to enhance cerebral function, balancing of
mind - body coordination through nervous system.

In 1995 Aquilaria malaccensis (primary source of agar wood) was
listed in Appendix II of "Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora" by the Convention on International Trade. However, in 2004 all other species of Aquilaria were listed in Appendix II.Caution: People with allergies should apply caution when using agarwood smoke or perfume.

Phu Quoc Agarwood

Field survey of agarwood cultivation at Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam
The gate rice field it is heavy interest 4
NAKASHIMA Eduardo Massao N. 1 NGUYEN Mai Thanh Thi 2 TRAN Quan Le 3 KADOTA Shigetoshi 4
1 Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University Japanese medicine laboratory
1Institute of Natural Medicine, Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University 2Institute of Natural Medicine, Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University 3National University 4Institute of Natural Medicine and Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University
Keyword agarwood tram Aquilaria crassna Vietnam
Sinking fragrance is valuable and the rare product with southeast Asian tropical rain forest. In Vietnam which is thought that the resource of good quality sinking fragrance is abundant, Aquilaria crassna ([jinchiyouge] course) it is collected from the heartwood. In investigation of the sinking fragrance in Vietnam, this time, Phu Quoc (the Hu cock) concerning the plantation, it actualized with the island it could obtain the information regarding cultivation by the surface talks for the people of local end. As a result, it was found that cultivation of the sinking fragrance by the islander every year has increased. The plantation of every place, kind, is done from the nursery stock, or the young tree with the other crop has raised because of the future profit. As for promoting and developing the plantation and, it comes to the point of taking the initiative, it probably to mean to correspond to the demand where in addition in the world marketplace is high you try the retention of the sinking fragrance raw wood of wildness.
Agarwood is one of most valuable minor forest products of tropical Southeast Asia forests. In Vietnam, considered as rich source of high quality product and agarwood is collected from heartwood of Aquilaria crassna (Thymelaeaceae). Continuing the survey of agarwood in Vietnam, it was carried out ON plantations at Phu Quoc Island and information about cultivation of agarwood was gathered from interview with local people. The results showed that cultivation of agarwood by islanders is increasing every year. Local plantations are based ON seeds, seedlings and Young Aquilaria trees, which grows together with other crops and for a future profit. The promotion and development of agarwood plantations would be an initiative to preserve natural Aquilaria trees and as well as supply the high demand for agarwood in world market.

Koh Samui Agarwood

Agarwood "Otto of Roses" at samui
The wood was buried, and over time it developed a beautiful aroma. Natures Value addition It is nothing but a rare fungus that attaches itself to the agar tree that has made agar such a valuable and sought after product.This fungus once it establishes itself on the tree turns the woody trunks into a deep brownish black colour.The darker the woody bark turns due to fungal infection,the more valuable the wood It is the fungus that gives the agar wood its unique aroma,when it is burnt. The oleoresin is usually found where the branches fork out from the stem.Agaru or agarwood is the heavily olereosin impregnated solid chips of wood obtained and processed from the fungus affected part of the trees.Devoid of the fungus, the agar tree in itself has no value. So it is natures value addition to the tree that commands a premium in he market.(Mr.Chaiwat agar farm owner)Agar wood belongs to genus Aqailaria and Thymeleceae family. It is a resinous tree and grows naturally in tropical and sub-tropical forest from few meters to 1000 m above sea level. It is observed to grow best at the altitude of 500 to 600 meter with an annual rain fall of 2000mm and on a wide range of soils, including the poor sandy soil (Blanchette, 2002).
However plantation seedling requires shade and sufficient moisture for optimum growth, but too much shade will have adverse effect on growth of a tree (Blanchette,2002). Agar is a fast growing tree species and start producing flower and seed in four years time. In general, there were five species of Aquilaria that can produce resin (Locally known as Arna). One of the species found in the country is know to be Aqualaria achalloga ( Blanchette 2001), others are Aquilaria grandifolia, Aquilaria chinesis and Aquilariafilaria found in South Asia. In the region, natural Agar wood stand is endangered due to illegal poaching (source, local people).Where is Agar used?The uses of Agar are many.Its aromatic bark popularly known as Agar Batti is used as incense in many a home. Its by-product Agar oil used as a base for Attars and perfumes. The heavy base notes of the Agar oil lends itself to blend well with other essential oils such as rose,ylang ylang ,and jasmine that collectively power the perfume industry,the world over.Some European perfume houses especially seek out Agar oil to create heavier muskierperfume that have enhanced Agars demand and thereby carved a specialniche market for these agar dependant perfumes. Agar Oil also has thereupatic uses as it is used in a large number of Unani and Ayurvedic medicines. Interestingly agar is also used to flavour common and widely used betel nut prepartions such as Pan Parag and and Baba Zarda Join us for a day on the island and learn more about agar wood in rour local farmers.We are very pleased to include a diversity of farms tour, which accurately reflects the composition of organic farms on koh samui endorse a sea views.

About Oudh/Aloeswood Oil

Oudh/Aloeswood oil is derived from an Agarwood tree that grows abundantly in Laos, but is found all over Southeast Asia. The highest quality Agarwood trees can be found in the former countries of Indochina, such as: Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Also found in Assam a province in India, where the best distillers in the world can be found. Agarwood/ Oud oil are products of infected species of trees, commonly being sought from Aquilaria and Gyrinops trees.
Agarwood comes in solid or liquid form. Solids are only solid at room temperature, and if warmed slightly, it turns to mobile liquid. It is an anti-asthmatic and can be applied directly to the skin as it is non-irritating. The oil is very tenacious and only the tiniest of drops is needed to fill the air with its soul evoking aroma. It is a complex aroma with many nuances, deep and ethereal. The aroma takes about 12 hours to unfold and it will last on the skin for more than a day, and if placed on any material, the scent can last for months. It can be used as a perfume, an aroma therapy and an essential oil or as an aid for the deepest meditation. It is believed that this fragrances will unlock the subconscious and allow you to go deep into your memories. The resin is also used in perfumery, Yves Saint Laurent and Amouage use Agarwood in their top perfumes as a base.
The Aquilaria tree grows up to 40 meters high and 60 centimeters in diameter. It bears sweetly-scented, snow-white flowers. These trees form resins that can then produce some of the highest quality oudh oils. Of the 11 species of Aquilaria trees (Its scientific name is Aquilara Malaccensis Lam. or Aquilaria agallocha), found in Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Southern China and Vietnam, it is thought that 4-6 of them can produce the highly acclaimed Oudh oil resin. The trees frequently become infected with a parasite fungus or mold, Phialophora parasitica, and begin to produce an aromatic resin, in response to this attack. The results are achieved by allowing plenty of time for infection to take place, and preferably in the forest or other non-contrived settings. Eventually, this infection will cause the tree to die, and Agarwood resin can then be chipped away, in various grades of quality, and sold.
The fungus and decomposition process continue to generate a very rich and dark resin forming within the heartwood.. Thus, Aloeswood develops very, very slowly over time-typically several HUNDRED YEARS or more to form. Hence, this is why it is so rare and valued as the most sacred oil on the planet (in addition to the wonderful aroma)
The lesser quality Agarwood has a whitish color and contains less resin. They are graded, chopped, shredded, soaked, distilled, dried, and rolled into incense sticks. The uninfected Agarwood has no scented value. Oud oil has an eccentric, as well as, acquired fragrance. It is regarded as a very sophisticated and highly prized Oudh fragrance in the Arab world.
The fragrance oil business is a complex, multi-faceted business. Many people are involved in the making of one good oil. You, the consumer, benefit from the hundreds of pages of research and countless hours of testing. Fragrance oils open up a whole new world for soap and toiletry makers; scents that you have never dreamed of are out there for you to use and enjoy. You’ll be delighted with the world of fragrance out there when you start to explore.
Oudh/Aloeswood Oil Around the World
The West
Aloeswood/Oudh oil is slowly making an appearance in The West where the majority of people do not know about this natural gift of nature.
Middle East
The Aloeswood oil termed as 'Oudh' in the Middle East is highly valued for its fragrance, it can go upto astonishingly high prices due to the level of demand that exists. It is worn on clothes and skin, mainly used by men during special occasions such as Eid and Friday prayers.
One of the most prized fragrance items in Oman is oudh, which is imported from Cambodia, India and Malaysia. It is a musky-smelling wood which may be burned or from which oil can be extracted. It is very expensive and only used on important occasions such as Eid, weddings, funerals and to celebrate the birth of a child. The oudh oil will often be given as part of a woman's dowry, together with gold and other gifts.
The wood is carved as settings for precious stones and Aloeswood is an excellent wood for sculptures and carvings In Japan, Aloeswood is used in a complex fragrance guessing game called koh-do, part of the ceremonial appreciation of incense adopted from the Chinese, who still use the expression wenxiang, "listening to the incense." Japanese Shamans use Aloeswood Oils for its psychoactive properties. They believe enhances mental clarity and opens the third eye as well as all of the upper charkas
There are many stories about Aloeswood being buried under the ground for hundreds of years. This legend comes from an old Chinese book on incense. Aloeswood oil is prized in China for its psychoactive properties.
Used chiefly for Incense for the Mind - during meditation, Agarwood is highly psychoactive. It is used for spiritual journey, enlightenment, clarity and grounding. Buddhists use it for transmutation of ignorance
Tibetan Monks
Tibetan monks use it to bring energy to the center and calm the mind and spirit.
The Sufis use Agarwood oil in their esoteric ceremonies
Practitioners Around the World
It is recommended by experienced practitioners for providing motivation and devotion to meditation. It is supposed to facilitate communication with the transcendent, refreshes the mind and body, drives away evil spirits, takes away exhaustion, removes impurities, expels negative energies, brings alertness, calms the nervous system, relieves anxiety, invokes a sense of strength and peace, creating natural order in your sacred living areas, enhances cerebral functioning, remedies nervous disorders such as neurosis, obsessive behaviour, etc., and it is a companion in solitude.
Chinese, Tibetan, Ayurvedic and Unanai physicians have all used Agarwood in their practice to treat various diseases as well as mental illness.
Aloeswood Medicinal Uses
Stimulant, tonic, nausea, nerves, regurgitation, weakness in the elderly, aphrodisiac, diuretic, relieves epilepsy, antimicrobial, carminative (gas), smallpox, rheumatism, illness during and after childbirth, relieves spasms in digestive and respiratory systems, shortness of breath, chills, general pains, lowers fever, asthma, cancer, colic, digestive and bronchial complaints, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, cirrhosis of the liver and as a director or focuser for other medicines. It has also been used as a treatment for lung and stomach tumours.