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1. Comparison of Chemical Profiles of Selected Gaharu Oils from Peninsular Malaysia
(Thymelaeceae) and often occurs as dark coloured patches or streaks in the tree. Due to its strong, unique scent and medicinal properties, gaharu oil is greatly valued as perfumery ingredient and incense.
Gaharu may be classified into various grades; Grade A, B, C and D and they are often graded according to the physical properties, gaharu formation and its unique scent. The lower grades such as Grade C are often distilled to obtain gaharu oils. As part of an on-going research on the chemical profiling of some Malaysian gaharu oils and evaluation of their potential beneficial properties; gaharu oils obtained from different sources were analysed and compared by GC and GC-MS. Identification of the chemical components was based on comparison of calculated retention indices and mass spectral data with literature values. Examination of the oils showed some variations and differences in terms of GC profiles, concentration and chemical components. Majority of the essential oil profiles were complex and made up of sesquiterpenoids and their oxygenated derivatives. However, common occurrences of chemical compounds such as 3-phenyl-butanone, a-guaiene, ß-agarofuran, a-agarofuran, agarospirol and jinkoh-eremol were detected.
1. The Potential of Gaharu as a Plantation Species
Gaharu (Malay word for agar wood) is the most expensive wood in the world. It is valued in many cultures for its distinctive fragrance, and used extensively in incense and perfumes. Gaharu is the occasional product of two to four genera in the family Thymelaeaceae, with Aquilaria agallocha, Aquilaria crassna and Aquilaria malaccensis being the three best known species.
The name of the species is derived from the latin word “aquila” meaning eagle. Gaharu is known throughout many Asian countries and at least 15 species of Aquilaria trees are known to produce the much sought-after agar wood. The valuable wood has been traded for thousands of years throughout Asia. It used to be commonly found in many tropical countries, from India to Indonesia (Angela Barden et. al., 2000).