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