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Why Agarwood?

The Gem in the Rough

What is Agarwood?

Introduction of Agarwood

A Gem In The Rough

Aquilaria malaccensis is a species of plant in the Thymelaeceae family found primarily in South East Asia, such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia, China and Malaysia. It is recognized in many names, namely Agarwood, Jinkoh, Aloeswood, Gaharu, Eaglewood, and OUD. The term Agarwood, although widely used to refer to the members of the Aquilaria genus, more specifically refers to the resinous heartwood from the Aquilaria trees.

The Chronicles of Agarwood

Reputed to be nature’s alchemy taking form, Agarwood has been lauded since the dawn of time as a gem in the rough; for religious affair, fragrance and medical treatment.

For many centuries, it is the most sought-after aromatic wood, for the multidimensional uses of Agarwood range from traditional, cultural to religious offerings; it is central to Buddhist rituals, highly revered within traditional medicine for its holistic effects, and it’s lasting, musky scent considered a luxurious cultural touchstone, used widely in Western homes as body oils, fragrance and the likes.

At a glance, the “Wood of the Gods” has at least a 3,000-year history, recorded in many ancient literatures and some of the earliest civilizations in Egypt, Middle East and East Asia. In China, Agarwood was first dated in the Miscellaneous Records of Famous Physicians (502-566 A.D.) as a top-grade wood and herb, and saw rapid development across the Tang and Five dynasties.

Today, the old saying originating from the Ming Dynasty that goes – “an inch of Agarwood is worth an inch of gold” no longer holds true. Instead, for its rarity, luxury, opulence, and exclusivity, Agarwood is now priced up to thrice as costly as gold, rendering it one of world’s most coveted commodities.


Agarwood Habitat

A Semi-Parasite

Agarwood trees can be classified as semi-parasitic plants, for they have thousands and millions of suction cups lined up principally at root tips. These suction cups would adhere to other plants for the uptake of water and nutrients from the soil; they mainly thrive from surrounding’s elements.


Agarwood trees are slow-growing plants with maturing process of up to several decades. The Growth rate and degree of success of its cultivation of the fragrant wood are immensely dependent of soil, topography, climate, and proper handling.


Agarwood trees are found naturally in tropical forests, and are very sensitive to climate. Temperatures below 10 °C may engender their growth to remain dormant, and at subzero temperatures young Aquilaria saplings begin to wither and eventually die-off. Hence Agarwood trees are preferably cultivated at regions with an all-year tropical climate and avoiding regions susceptible to natural disasters such as typhoon.


Fertile soil alone may not be sufficient to cater to growing demands of Agarwood. The ideal foundation for cultivating Agarwood trees are soil that is enriched with symmetry micronutrients; stimulating direct absorption by Agarwood trees, thereby accelerate the maturity process.


Sun-loving Agarwood tree requires an adequate amount of sunlight for photosynthesis, essential for facilitating growth rates. A deep body of water is fatal to Agarwood tree; roots submerging in water lead to decay, a gradual withering process.


Due to the semi-parasitic nature of Agarwood trees; it entails a constant necessity of host plants.

Characteristics & Constituent

Handling of Agarwood
Handling of Agarwood
Agarwood trees are delicate and should be appropriately administered. In the process of cultivation, other than careful supervisions, cultivators should have profound understanding of the genus of Agarwood. A holistic cultivation method and plan must be drafted, including weeding executional plan, loosening of soil, pruning, pest control, proper drainage and wind protection. All the above are the quintessential criteria for cultivation Agarwood. Its production is influenced by these uncompromising requirements, rendering Agarwood rare, precious, and valuable.
The Aquilaria (Thymelaeaceae) is a well-known Agarwood-producing genus, where some species in the genus accumulate resins in parts of their trunks when mature. The resins then in turn form aromatic nodules, referred to as ‘Chenxiang’ (sinking incense) amongst the Mandarin-speaking.

The ancient Chinese referred to Agarwood as ‘ChenShuiXiang’ (sinking incense wood) in the earlier days, even likened to fairest beauty of Ancient China, Xishi, for she had captivated many including the Emperor with her favorite daily douche fragrance alike to that of Agarwood. Other parts of the world may provide each distinctive identity; in Malaysia, it is most commonly known as Agarwood or gaharu.
Soil & Climate
Soil & Climate
Agar plant prefers high humid, sub-tropical climate with rainfall between 1800-3500 mm per annum. It grows from sea level up to 500-m altitudes. It is a sun-loving plant and requires plenty of sunshine. It prefers well-drained deep sandy loam-to-loam rich in organic matter but can profitably be grown in marginal soils and also in shallow soils over rocky beds with cracks and crevices. It grows well in hill slopes and forest environment. The traditional agar growing areas exhibit the preference of acidic soil reaction. Mycorrhiza and other beneficial funguses, which seems to be responsible for oil formation in the Agar tree are soil borne; requires acidic soil for their propagation.

Agarwood Formation Process

The Path towards Agarwood Formation

Aquilaria malaccensis produces seeds after 7–9 years while some other species produce seeds only once in their life cycle. The flowering and fruiting of Aquilaria species usually occur between May to August of the year.
Aquilaria fruit produces one to two seeds in a capsule, which are very sensitive to desiccation. These seeds have short viability period of 7-10 days.
Seedlings of the species should first be germinated in sand beds, before being carefully transplanted to polythene bags, supported by bamboo poles and kept under temporary shade.
All agarwood seedlings that have grown for 6 months will be transplanted from the temporary shade area to the exclusive planting area of ​​agarwood trees; usually, the planting distance between agarwood trees is between 2 meters and 6 meters, and careful care is given.
By the third year of growth, agarwood saplings will gradually form resin between the phloem and parenchyma. Once a fungus invades the agarwood tree at this time, the tree body will respond accordingly and produce protective resin; and when the resin condensed in the tree body reaches the corresponding saturation, agarwood will be formed.
Agarwood resin formed by natural maturation may take a long time to complete, and the probability of containing agarwood resin among many mature agarwood trees is only 1%. Therefore, in order to induce and increase the speed of agarwood resin synthesis, agarwood growers have long used safe and effective artificial inoculation methods, such as wounding the agarwood tree or artificial fungal infection.
All mature agarwood has its own unique fragrance, which is also the most valuable value-added point of agarwood. Compared with other types of spices that are easy to be copied, agarwood will create its unique fragrance and related products due to the agarwood resin condensed in different environments, different types of fungi invaded, and different situations, which shows its human nature. A unique, unique scent.
When the agarwood tree is 5 to 10 years old, the agarwood tree is suitable for harvesting and manufacturing into various high-value related products.

Nature's Treasure

Benefits in Every Part of The Plant


Agarwood leaves; rich in protein, vitamins and micronutrients, is an unconventional but safe nutritious food for consumption. Along with Chinese liquorice roots, Agarwood leaves can be produced into fragrance, Agarwood tea that aids in the detoxifying of human bodies and is free from caffeine.


Aquilaria’s small, yellowish-green flowers are rare and beautiful, and its healing properties are long recognised since being documented in the classic Chinese compendium of herbal materia medica, Shennong Bencao Jing. Petals of Aquilaria flowers are used in making floral-infused tea, known to reduce cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. It can also be made into traditional Chinese medicine for various treatments, such as fractures, contusions and strains, or more commonly known as 'Tittar'.


Formed in the heartwood of Agarwood trees; resin is highly valued and blessed with prominent pricing globally. The essential raw material in the making of the fragrant OUD.


Treated Agarwood tree barks can be made into high quality paper.


Aquilaria fruits contain high levels of oil, where 60% of its total composition is fatty acids, including stearic acid and ximenyic acid; with excellent insulating quality and shine. OUD or Agarwood essential oil can be extracted from ripened Aquilaria fruits, and is exquisitely priced due to its rarity.


Agarwood branches can be dried, crushed, and combined with rose petals, for the making of quality incense used in religious offerings.


Agarwood roots can be dried, crushed, and combined with rose petals, for the making of quality incense used in religious offerings.


Agarwood trees are known as the ‘New Ivory’ due to its strength and toughness, allowing them to be pest-free and anti-corrosive. Agarwood trees trunks can be made into premium, durable furniture, beads, or carved into religious sculptures; premium products in international market with strong demands and prominent pricing.

The King of Agarwood

Qi Nam

Kinam is the most priced and prominent variety of Agarwood, opulent in glutinous resins and fragrance scent and possesses anesthetic, bitter, hot and mint taste; filled with gentle and dignified scent with a touch of bitterness. The fragrance is synonymous with an aristocrat in its elegance and gracefulness. It is also known and used in Traditional Chinese medicine as herbs; believing to have the properties in curing, treating cancer and other diseases. Kinam is found in Indochina, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, especially in Vietnam. According to Kyozaburo Nakata of Baieido Co.,Ltd. the name Kinam originated from the local language of the Campus of South Vietnam; the early traders of Kyara. The name derives from the combination of the Sanskrit word for black “Kala” and the Chinese word for tree “Bak” Together they formed Kalambak and later the name was changed to Kinam.

Kinam is sold in Kilogram denomination. Genuine Kinam is rare and exorbitantly priced. Genuine Kinam is known to transacted for more than USD$20,000 per Kilogram.

People Republic of China is poised becoming global largest and fastest growing single market for Agarwood. Demand for Agarwood and Agarwood products have grown exponentially in China in recent years, and are believed to be in the range of billions of American dollars.

In China, it is believed to be more than 70 000 Agarwood trees in the Guangdong Province and approximately 60 000 trees in Hainan province, with smaller quantities in some other provinces. It is reported that a large number of Agarwood plantations have been established in the last decade. Agarwood plantations can alleviate pressure on wild populations and satisfy growing market demands, with encouraging efforts being channeled into developing technology in improving the sustainable use of Agarwood-producing trees.

In the present day, the ethereal fragrance of Agarwood trees is blossoming in the South China, albeit its growth rate trailing behind tropical countries due to its cooler climate and typhoon intrusion.

Agarwood is "Worth a King's Ransom"

Every component of the tree benefits humankind and have been treasured since time of antiquity.

Matters in the Mind

The fragrance of Agarwood has always avail humankind and has been eminently used in religious and spiritual practices; the fragrance is said to aid in one’s communion with the divine. Agarwood has been widely used for spiritual purposes since primordial times, in aiding one’s path towards enlightenment, clarity, grounding, transmutation of ignorance as well as in the form of incense as a form of offerings. Agarwood is an essential element in aromatherapy; the most potent in calming and cultivating a luxurious yet cozy and relax home setting for one’s mind and being.

Enriching Lives

Agarwood is not only central to religious and cultural offerings, it is also widely used for perfume, medicinal, and ornamental purposes.