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Aquilaria crassna - Pierre ex Lecomte

Common Name Agar Wood
Family Thymelaeaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Scattered in primary and secondary forests on rocky, shallow ferralitic soil, often along the sides of streams, at elevations up to 1,000 metres[ 325 , 598 ].
Range Southeast Asia - Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Aquilaria crassna Agar Wood


Nha Le Hoan flickr
Aquilaria crassna Agar Wood

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Summary

Agar wood or Aquilaria crassna is a 15-20 m tall evergreen tree with an open crown. It is commonly cultivated or harvested from the wild in Southeast Asia for its aromatic resin. Burning agar wood produces fragrance that has been used as incense for ceremonial purposes in Buddhism, Confucianism and Hinduism. The incense also functions as an insect repellent. Agar wood is a source of rare and expensive oil that is used in luxury perfumery and only produced on request. The bark produces fibre that is used for making hammock, clothing articles and paper pulp. The wood is used in furniture making, posts, fuel, and charcoal among others. Agar wood is also used medicinally. It is used as relief from spasms, for lowering fever, against asthma, colic and diarrhoea, and as an aphrodisiac and carminative. The incense is used against cancer and for treating a wide range of mental illnesses, and nervous disorders. The wood can be grated, prepared in many ways, and used during and after childbirth, and for treating abdominal pains, rheumatism, and small pox. Wood decoctions are reported to have anti-microbial properties. In Malaysia, the resin from Agar wood is used to flavour curries. The plant can be grown from its seed. However, the seed has a very short viability thus sowing has to be done as soon as possible after harvesting, with no pre-treatment required.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Aquilaria crassna is an evergreen Tree growing to 20 m (65ft) by 15 m (49ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms

Aquilaria crasna Pierre

Habitats

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.



None known

Other Uses

Other uses rating: High (4/5). Agroforestry Uses: Initial trial results in Cambodia have shown that the tree is easy to plant and very suitable for planting under the canopies of mixed stands[ 404 ]. Other Uses Agar wood is the rare and famous, resin-containing heartwood that is produced mainly from old and diseased trees of several members of this genus[ 310 ]. In trade a distinction between the wood from these species is rarely made[ 310 ]. The fragrance produced by the burning agar wood has been highly valued for thousands of years, and its use as incense for ceremonial purposes in Buddhism, Confucianism and Hinduism is widespread throughout eastern and southern Asia. In Thailand it is put into funeral pyres, while in Japan, the incense is used in tea ceremonies[ 310 ]. Wood only partly saturated with resin but still fragrant, and occasionally also the wood remaining after distillation, is made into sticks called 'joss-sticks' or 'agarbattis' which are burnt as incense[ 310 ]. The incense is also used as an insect repellent[ 310 ]. Agar-wood oil is an essential oil obtained by water and steam distillation of agar wood. It is used in luxury perfumery for application in e.g. oriental and woody-aldehydic bases, ?chypres? and ?foug?res?. It produces interesting odour notes with clove oil, e.g. in carnation bases. The oil is so rare and expensive that it is only produced on request[ 310 ]. Agar-wood oil is a yellow to dark amber, viscous liquid with a characteristic balsamic and woody odour. Its aroma has some resemblance with vetiverol or styrax and has a sweetness similar to that of sandalwood oil. Its odour is long-lasting and exhibits a good tenacity in applications[ 310 ]. The roots are used for incense and cosmetics[ 338 ]. A fibre is obtained from the bark[ 338 ]. It is used for hammock making, clothing articles and paper pulp[ 404 ]. He wood is soft and very fragrant, consisting of irregular patches of dark wood in which heavily scented oleoresins are concentrated[ 404 ]. Undamaged wood that is only lightly fragrant is used for general furniture, round wood, plywood, posts, stakes, sawn or hewn building timbers, for light construction, carpentry/joinery, containers, crates, musical instruments etc[ 404 ]. The wood is sometimes used for fuel and charcoal[ 404 ].

Cultivation details

A plant of the moist tropics, where it is found mainly at elevations from 300 - 900 metres[ 325 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime annual temperatures are in the range 22 - 28?c, though it can tolerate 14 - 40?c[ 404 ]. The absolute minimum temperature it experiences is 5?c[ 404 ]. It is found in areas where the mean annual rainfall ranges from 1,500 - 6,500mm, with a dry season ranging from 0 - 4 months[ 404 ]. Requires a sunny position according to some reports[ 325 , 404 ], whilst others say that it can tolerate some shade[ 404 ]. Young plants grow well in some shade, but require more light as they grow larger[ 404 , 598 ]. Trees have to be at least 15 - 20 years old before they produce deposits of the aromatic resin known as agar wood or eagle wood[ 325 ]. Three closely related species of Aquilaria are considered to be the major sources of agar wood and are distinguished by the length of their calyx lobes:- Aquilaria crassna, which comes from Indo-China, has lobes 12 - 15mm long. Aquilaria malaccensis, from India, and Malaysia has lobes 2 - 3mm long. Aquilaria sinensis, from China, has lobes 8mm long.

Propagation

Seed - it has a very short viability of less than 10 weeks and needs to be sown as soon as possible after harvesting[ 325 ]. No pre-treatment is required. Sow in a nursery seedbed, only just covering the seed and leaving the tail above soil level. Germination usually starts within 10 days and can be spread over one month[ 325 ]. Root cuttings are easy if rooting hormones are used[ 325 ]. Air layering works well if rooting hormones are used[ 325 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Agar wood or Aquilaria crassna

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Coming Soon

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Critically Endangered

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Aquilaria malaccensisAgar Wood, Eaglewood, Indian Aloewood, Aloeswood13
Aquilaria sinensisAgar Wood, Pak Muk Heung, White Wood Incense03

 

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Pierre ex Lecomte

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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