Aquilaria cumingiana is an evergreen shrub or small tree that can grow up to 5 metres tall. The wood of all members of this genus, when infected with a fungus, becomes a source of agarwood, which is very aromatic and highly valued as an incense, perfume and medicine. The plant also provides a useful fibre.
The fungi-infected heartwood has a high commercial value and numerous trees are cut down, many of them uninfected by the fungus, in order to harvest just a few kilograms of the diseased wood. The increase in levels of trade over the past decade has resulted in overexploitation throughout the range of this species. The plant is classified as ‘Vulnerable’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Aquilaria malaccensis is a species of plant in the Thymelaeaceae family. It is found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. It is threatened by habitat loss.
Aquilaria malaccensis is the major source of agarwood, a resinous heartwood, used for perfume and incense. The resin is produced by the tree in response to infection by a parasitic ascomycetous mould, Phaeoacremonium parasitica, a dematiaceous (dark-walled) fungus.
Otherwise known as Aloes wood and Malacca eagle-wood, Agar wood (Aquilaria malaccensis) is a tropical small tree that grows up to 40 m high and spreads up to 12 m wide. It has a pale, thin and smooth trunk, silky young shoots, and leathery, long, sword-shaped leaves that are arranged alternately. Its white flowers are in clusters and its fruits are egg shaped and velvety. Edible parts are the seeds and bark.
It is used to flavour curries. Aquilaria malaccensis, like other species from the Aquilaria genus, is a major source of agar wood resin that is used for perfume and incense. The resin is produced when the tree is infected by a parasitic fungus, Phaeoacremonium parasitica. The incense is used against cancer in Western, Chinese, and Indian medicine. Agar wood is used to relieve spasms and to lower fever.
In China, it is used as a sedative against abdominal complaints, asthma, colic and diarrhoea. It also is an aphrodisiac and carminative. The incense also functions as an insect repellent. The inner bark is used in making cloth, ropes, and writing materials. The timber of healthy trees is used for making boxes, in light construction, and veneer. Other Names: Agarwood tree, Agar, Akyaw, Sasi, Aloes Wood, Malacca eagle-wood.
Agar wood is an astringent, stimulant, tonic herb that relieves spasms, especially of the digestive and respiratory systems, and lowers fevers. In Western, Chinese and Indian medicines the incense is used against cancer, especially of the thyroid gland. In China it is applied as a sedative against abdominal complaints, asthma, colic and diarrhoea, and as an aphrodisiac and carminative. The grated wood enters into various preparations used especially during and after childbirth, and to treat rheumatism, smallpox and abdominal pains. Decoctions of the wood are said to have anti-microbial properties, e.g. Against Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Shigella flexneri.