Agarwood , aloeswood, eaglewood, or gharuwood is a fragrant dark resinous wood used in incense, perfume, and small carvings. It is formed in the heartwood of aquilaria trees when they become infected with a type of mold Phialophora parasitica. Prior to infection, the heartwood is odourless, relatively light and pale coloured; however, as the infection progresses, the tree produces a dark aromatic resin, called aloes not to be confused with Aloe ferox , the succulent known as bitter aloes or agar not to be confused with the edible, algae-derived agar as well as gaharu , jinko , oud , or oodh not to be confused with bukhoor , in response to the attack, which results in a very dense, dark, resin-embedded heartwood.
The resin-embedded wood is valued in Biblical Jewish perfumery  and Arabic - Middle Eastern culture for its distinctive fragrance, and thus is used for incense and perfumes. The aromatic qualities of agarwood are influenced by the species, geographic location, its branch, trunk and root origin, length of time since infection, and methods of harvesting and processing. One of the main reasons for the relative rarity and high cost of agarwood is the depletion of the wild resource.
The odour of agarwood is complex and pleasing,  with few or no similar natural analogues.
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In the perfume state, the scent is mainly distinguished by a combination of "oriental-woody" and "very soft fruity-floral" notes. The incense smoke is also characterized by a "sweet-balsamic" note and "shades of vanilla and musk" and amber not to be confused with ambergris.
In the Hebrew Bible , "trees of lign aloes" are mentioned in The Book of Numbers  and a perfume compounded of aloeswood, myrrh , and cassia is described in Psalms Even though Dioscorides describes agarwood as having an astringent and bitter taste, it was used to freshen the breath when chewed or as a decoction held in the mouth.
He also writes that a root extract was used to treat stomach complaints and dysentery as well as pains of the lungs and liver. As early as the third century CE in ancient Viet Nam, the chronicle Nan zhou yi wu zhi Strange things from the South written by Wa Zhen of the Eastern Wu Dynasty mentioned agarwood produced in the Rinan commandery, now Central Vietnam , and how people collected it in the mountains.
During the sixth century CE in Japan, in the recordings of the Nihon Shoki The Chronicles of Japan the second oldest book of classical Japanese history, mention is made of a large piece of fragrant wood identified as agarwood. The source for this piece of wood is claimed to be from Pursat, Cambodia based on the smell of the wood.
The famous piece of wood still remains in Japan today and is showcased less than 10 times per century at the Nara National Museum. Agarwood is highly revered in Islam. Xuanzang 's travelogues and the Harshacharita , written in seventh century AD in Northern India, mentions use of agarwood products such as 'Xasipat' writing-material and 'aloe-oil' in ancient Assam Kamarupa.
The tradition of making writing materials from its bark still exists in Assam.
There are seventeen species in the genus Aquilaria , large evergreens native to southeast Asia , and nine are known to produce agar wood. The gyrinops tree can also produce agarwood. Formation of agar wood occurs in the trunk and roots of trees that have been penetrated by an insect feeding on wood and oily resin, the Ambrosia beetle Dinoplatypus chevrolati.
A mold infection may then occur, and in response, the tree produces a salutary self-defense material to conceal damages or infections. While the unaffected wood of the tree is relatively light in color, the resin dramatically increases the mass and density of the affected wood, changing its color from a pale beige to yellow, orange, red, dark brown or black.
A common method in artificial forestry is to inoculate trees with the fungus. The composition of agarwood oil is exceedingly complex with more than chemical compounds identified.
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Other common classes of compounds include agarofurans , cadinanes , eudesmanes , valencanes and eremophilanes , guaianes , prezizanes , vetispiranes , simple volatile aromatic compounds as well as a range of miscellaneous compounds.
The following species of Aquilaria produce agarwood: . Sri Lankan "agarwood" is known as Walla Patta and is of the Gyrinops walla species. Overharvesting and habitat loss threatens some populations of agarwood-producing species.
Concern over the impact of the global demand for agarwood has thus led to the inclusion of the main taxa on CITES Appendix II, which requires that international trade in agarwood be monitored.
CITES also provides that international trade in agarwood be subject to controls designed to ensure that harvest and exports are not to the detriment of the survival of the species in the wild. In addition, agarwood plantations have been established in a number of countries, and reintroduced into countries such as Malaysia and Sri Lanka as commercial plantation crops.
The success of these plantations depends on the stimulation of agarwood production in the trees. Numerous inoculation techniques have been developed, with varying degrees of success.
Snelder, Denyse J. Retrieved 8 October Jung, Dr. Dinah 1 January The cultural biography of agarwood PDF.
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Retrieved 30 October From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Not to be confused with Agalloch. For other uses, see aloe disambiguation.
Economic Botany. Retrieved on 22 July Flavour and Fragrance Journal. Cambridge, England: Traffic International. Archived PDF from the original on 23 November National Institute of Industrial Re. Kodansha USA. Please note: due to the method of assigning names to medicinal botanicals used in Tibet, it must be considered that woods with similar medicinal properties are named as varieties of the same medicine, and not according to anything akin to the nomenclature of Western botany.
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Tibetan botanical taxonomy is still in the earliest stage: "white aloeswood" actually refers to the non-aromatic portions of the Indian sandalwood tree; "yellow aloeswood" refers to the scented heartwood of Santalum album. Unique aloeswood is the highest grade of Aquilaria agallocha resin, known in English as Agallochum , while "black aloeswood" is the resin infused wood of the same tree; "brown aloeswood" is the scented wood of several Dalbergia species from India and Bhutan.
Journal of Tropical Forest Products. Blanchette, Robert A. Retrieved 22 July Worship in Hinduism.
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