Variation of Naturally Formed Agarwood Resins in Gyrinops walla Gaertn Growing in Sri Lanka

W.N.H. de Alwis, S.M.C.U.P. Subasinghe, D.S. Hettiarachchi


Agarwood is a highly fragrant and valuable resin produced in certain species of Aquilaria and
Gyrinops genera of Family Thymalaeaceae. This resin is produced as a first line defense
mechanism to protect the tree stem from microbial invasions. Due to the extensive use in
cosmetics, medicines, religious and cultural activities, the demand for agarwood resins in
Europe, Middle East and South-east Asian regions is very high. Gyrinops walla, locally
known as Walla patta is the only naturally growing agarwood producing species in Sri Lanka
and it is distributed in the humid lowland forests of the wet zone and intermediate zones of
low elevations. The ability of producing agarwood resins in G. walla was scientifically
discovered in 2012. Parallel to that, there were reports of large scale of poaching and illegal
transport of this species with certain involvements of the foreign nationals.

This study was conducted to identify the variation of agarwood resin contents of G. walla
trees growing under different climatic and geographical conditions in Sri Lanka and to
identify the relationship of resin contents with tree growth parameters. For this purpose, 64
trees growing in eight distinct areas, viz., Horawala, Kalatuwawa, Kalawana, Karandana,
Maliboda, Mirigama, Neboda and Yagirala belong to wet and intermediate zones of low
country were collected. Collected tissues were size reduced and the resins were collected by
solvent extraction method. Colours of both resinous tissues and extracted resins were
determined using a standard method. One-way ANOVA was conducted to identify the
significance of resin contents among different regions and Pearson correlation was tested
between resin contents and tree growth parameters.

The colour of the resinous tissues and extracted resins varied from light brown to dark brown
and yellow to dark brown respectively. The highest average resin content (4.92%) was
recorded from Maliboda while the lowest (2.19%) was recorded from Kalawana. One-way
ANOVA did not report significant differences of resin contents between different locations.
Significant correlations were also not found between resin contents and tree diameter and
height. According to the resin content analysis of naturally growing trees, it was revealed that
the best trees can be identified at Maliboda area to collect seeds for making the next
generation in the plantation establishment.

Keywords: Agarwood, Gyrinops walla, solvent extraction, Sri Lanka

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Proceedings of International Forestry and Environment Symposium, Sri Lanka. Published by Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura