Agarwood is the most expensive wood in the world, an occasional product of a few genera of Aquilaria and Gyrinops in the Thymelaeaceae family. Agar is a scented product, oleoresin, from the wood of live trees.
The quality of agar depends on the plant species and fungal species involved, together with still unknown factors.
- The heartwood is light and pale coloured; but, as the wood matures, the tree produces a dark aromatic resin in response to infection or unknown induction, which results in a very dense, dark resin-embedded heartwood.
- In theory, agarwood can be produced by (3) three species are reportedly found in the Philippines: Aquillaria apiculina, A. acuminata, and A. cumingiana.
- In Japan, agarwood is called jinko. There are several grades, the highest of which is known as kyara.
- Trees grow very fast, flowering and producing seeds as early as four (4) years old.
- Agarwood is exported in various forms viz. wood chips, powder, oil, end products like perfumes, incense and medicines.
- First-grade agarwood is one of the most expensive natural raw materials in the world.
In 2010, the price for superior pure material was as high as $100,000 / kg.
- The expensive price comes from low yield from plant material, labor intensive extraction processes. Low grade resinous wood used for oil production require a minimum of 20 kg to produce 12 ml of oil.
• Commercially available agarwood is derived from fungus-infected trees through wounds caused by species of Aspergillus, Fusarium, Penicillium, and Fungi imperfecti.
- “Qi-Nan” is regarded as the highest quality agarwoord, with its mysterious oriental odel that can be smelt without burning, unlike other kinds of agarwood.
• Because of inflated demands and rapidly declining population of Aquilaria species in the wild, the yields of agarwood collected from the wild is shrinking, as the price continues to rise, restricting scientific research and wide application.