Agarwood: the life of a wounded tree
Agarwood is the infected wood of the Aquilaria tree. Called ‘the wood of the Gods’, its uses range from incense for religious ceremonies, perfume for the Arabic world, medicinal wine in Korea and ornamental functions in China. As a healthy tree the Aquilaria is worth next to nothing, but wounded its defence mechanisms produce agarwood and the tree becomes a valuable commodity. Gerard Persoon goes in search of the natural and social life of a wounded tree.