by Preston Brady III, Herbscapes.com 2023
No, the title of this piece is not a typo. The wood from the Aquilaria tree, called agarwood, is worth about $100,000 per kilogram. Gold is currently, today worth $60,220 per kilogram. An ounce of agarwood chips on Amazon is selling for a mere $3,499. The scent has been described as complex, a mix of sandalwood, cedarwood, vanilla, a profound woody smell. The seeds are hard to find but I found quantity 40 on eBay and ordered them. They were projected to take several weeks to arrive but arrived in less than two weeks from a place I visited many years ago, Bangkok, Thailand.
I watched a few videos on how to help agarwood seeds germinate, and the process involves soaking the seeds in a fungicide to eliminate disease. The seeds in the videos were green as a pea and the seeds that arrived were dark brown to black, with the sprout side already sticking up about an eight of an inch. Since it is recommended the seeds should be planted within four or five days of removal from tree, I am assuming the seller already did the preliminary work and the seeds are ready to plant ( somewhat later than popularly recommended.) So I planted twenty seeds in small pots yesterday,(pointy side up) in a mix of high quality potting soil and topped it with a few inches of peat moss. The peat moss holds moisture longer than dirt and I will probably start using it more in seed germination. The trees can mature in captivity in about 6 years but in the wild they are much larger and mature. I sprayed the seeds with water as opposed to pouring water in the pots so as not to dislodge the seeds. I have the pots sitting under a covered outdoor area so they will not be inundated with possible rain before they’ve had a chance to mature. They will receive limited sunlight during hopeful germination. They should germinate within 10 to 30 days. I am hoping for 10. I will place them in the greenhouse this winter.
The agarwood needs a subtropical or tropical climate, meaning in the United States the Gulf Coast and some other parts of the Southeast. However, if you are somewhere else don’t be discouraged. If you have a heated greenhouse you may be able to start trees there and perhaps negotiate them to a warmer climate for the duration.
If the average yield of an agarwood tree is about 5 kilograms and you have 40 trees to maturity…let’s see…only 2 million dollars worth of agarwood.
The fragrant agarwood is created when Aquilaria trees become sick and infected by mold. The resin they produce is to fend off the mold. The tree is native to Southeast Asia, found primarily in rainforests. In case you want to test out the scent, I found a more reasonably priced, small package of agarwood chips for incense burning, on Amazon:
I will update the germination process for these seeds very soon.