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5

SOFT RESINS AND BALSAMS

BENZOIN

DESCRIPTION AND USES

Benzoin is a balsam obtained from trees of the genus Styrax from Southeast Asia. There are two types of benzoin of commerce: Siam benzoin from S. tonkinensis and Sumatra benzoin (also called gum Benjamin) from S. benzoin.

When freshly collected, Siam benzoin is a semi-solid material but it soon hardens to form brittle tears or pebble-shaped pieces, often translucent, and yellowish-red to brown in colour. Sumatra benzoin also hardens to form solid tears. However, both types (but particularly Sumatra benzoin) often enter trade as solid blocks comprising whitish tears embedded in a matrix of reddish-brown resin (often made from damar dust).

In common with other balsams, both types of benzoin contain mixtures of either predominantly benzoic acid and its esters and other derivatives (Siam benzoin), or cinnamic acid and its derivatives (Sumatra benzoin), and these confer on benzoin the characteristic balsamic odour. The lower grades of Sumatra benzoin have a harsher note.

A range of tinctures, "resinoids" and "absolutes" are produced by extraction of the balsam with suitable hydrocarbon or alcoholic solvents and these are the form in which benzoin is usually employed in its end-uses. Unlike many other balsams, benzoin produces negligible amounts of essential oil on distillation.

Both types of benzoin have extensive fragrance applications but the higher quality of the Siam benzoin enables it to be used in the more expensive, delicate perfumes. In the areas where it is produced, benzoin is also traded as an incense.

Sumatra benzoin (and, to a lesser extent, Siam benzoin) is used quite widely in pharmaceutical preparations: as an ingredient of inhalations for the treatment of catarrh and in topical preparations for its antiseptic and protective properties. Benzoin is also used in traditional Chinese medicine.
 

WORLD SUPPLY AND DEMAND TRENDS

Markets

Siam benzoin

Information provided by PINYOPUSARERK (1994) indicates that production of Siam benzoin in Laos in 1948 was 50 tonnes which, at that time, almost entirely satisfied world demand. Current (1994) production was said to be significantly less than 50 tonnes, although it was suggested that this figure might rise as a result of French interest in securing long-term supplies of 40 tonnes annually. A recent estimate by de BEER (1993) put Laotian production at rather more than this, over 100 tonnes/year (exported to France and the People's Republic of China); Vietnamese exports were estimated at 10 tonnes/year (to France).

Exports of [Siam] benzoin from Thailand (see below) are small, so total world demand for benzoin of this type appears to be between 50 tonnes and 120 tonnes annually, with Europe (and France in particular) being the biggest market.

Sumatra benzoin

Exports of benzoin from Indonesia for the period 1988-93, and their destinations, are given in Table 23. Note that in the Indonesian trade statistics, what is taken to be benzoin (see footnote to Table 23) is classified as "frankincense".

The data in Table 23 show no clear trend but the annual average for the six years is approximately 960 tonnes. This is considerably more than the 100-150 tonnes estimated in 1971 for production of Sumatra benzoin (ADAMSON, 1971), and indicates either that there has been a substantial increase in demand for benzoin in the 20 years since then; or that exports of Indonesian frankincense (if they were recorded in 1971) were not identified as being those of benzoin; or that what is presently recorded as frankincense is not all benzoin.

Whatever the case, the final destinations of most of the exports indicated in Table 23 are not known - most of the benzoin is shipped to Singapore. However, a large proportion of this can be presumed to go on to Europe for both fragrance and pharmaceutical use; some of it might also go to the People's Republic of China for medicinal use. Other, direct importers of Indonesian benzoin are Japan and countries in the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent.

Supply sources

Laos has been noted above as being the major producer of Siam benzoin, with smaller quantities coming from Viet Nam. Recent exports of [Siam] benzoin from Thailand are shown in Table 24, although Thai production is believed to originate from Laos; exports for 1988-93 averaged 10 tonnes/year.

Indonesia is the only producer of Sumatra benzoin and production may be at, or above, the level of exports given in Table 23.

Quality and prices

Siam benzoin is regarded as being of a much higher quality than Sumatra benzoin. The latter is more likely to be sold in the form of block benzoin (see above) and this has led to a very variable quality, with widespread adulteration through the inclusion in the blocks of pieces of damar resin. In India, samples of benzoin from the local market have been found to be adulterated with pine rosin.

Both types of benzoin used to be included in the British Pharmacopoeia (BP, 1980), for which a minimum content of 25% total balsamic acids was required (calculated as benzoic acid for Siam benzoin and cinnamic acid for Sumatra benzoin). The amount of (90%) ethanol-insoluble matter allowable was less for Siam benzoin (not more than 5%) than Sumatra benzoin (not more than 20%). The most recent British Pharmacopoeia (BP, 1993) only describes Sumatra benzoin; included in the specification is a test for checking the absence of damar.

An FAO specification for "Benzoin gum" describes requirements of both types of benzoin for use as a flavouring agent.

The highest grade of benzoin is sold as separate pieces called "Almonds". Blocks of benzoin are usually sold under trade names which vary in quality and price; one such brand of Sumatran benzoin was priced at about US$ 2 500/tonne in mid-1995 (CIF London).

PLANT SOURCES

Botanical/common names

Family Styracaceae:

Styrax tonkinensis (Pierre) Craib ex Hartwiss (syn. S. tonkinense Pierre)
S. benzoin Dryand.
S. paralleloneurus Perkins

The balsam from S. tonkinensis is known as Siam benzoin. Balsam from S. benzoin and S. paralleloneurus is known as Sumatra benzoin (or, less commonly, as gum Benjamin). In Indonesia, Sumatra benzoin is called frankincense, although this term is usually taken to mean the resinous exudate from Boswellia spp. of Arabia and Africa.

Other Styrax spp. are tapped for balsam locally but the products are not believed to enter world trade (for example, S. hypoglauca Perk. and S. cascarifolia in the People's Republic of China).

Description and distribution

S. tonkinensis is a tree up to 25 m tall and 30 cm in diameter, with a clear bole for about two thirds of the tree's height. It occurs naturally in the northern parts of Laos and Viet Nam, mainly in secondary rainforests, but its fast-growing nature and suitable fibre properties have led to it being grown as a plantation species for pulp production. The species has also been introduced into southern parts of the People's Republic of China.

S. benzoin occurs wild in Sumatra, Indonesia, and the Malay Peninsula, but is also cultivated on hillsides or dry rice land.

COLLECTION/PRIMARY PROCESSING

Methods of tapping S. tonkinensis in Laos have recently been described (PINYOPUSARERK, 1994). The tapper makes a notch 8-10 cm wide and 5-6 cm long into the cambium of the trunk and the bark removed. A number of incisions are made, staggered at intervals of 20-30 cm along the trunk. The lower incisions are made about 30 cm from the ground; the higher ones at the level of the first branches. Sometimes the incisions are made up to a height of 2 m only; a new 2 m section is then tapped the following year. The exuded oleoresin is left on the tree to harden, and it may be as long as 4-5 months after tapping (during the first cold days of winter) that the tears of benzoin are picked from the tree.

The first tapping is made on trees 3-5 years of age in natural forests and trees 6-8 years old in regenerated forests. Tapping continues for up to 6-8 years; it may be less if bark removal is excessive and permanent damage is done to the tree.

After collection, villagers undertake some hand cleaning and sorting, removing pieces of bark but taking particular care to retain (and not break) whole tears.

Collection of Sumatra benzoin from S. benzoin is presumed to be carried out in much the same way as that described above for S. tonkinensis.

Yields

In Laos, average annual yields of 1-3 kg of balsam per tree are reported to be obtained, although there is much tree-to-tree variation. It has been observed that trees having thin, light-coloured, smooth bark yield less benzoin than those with thick, dark brown, deeply fissured bark.

VALUE-ADDED PROCESSING

A number of tinctures, "resinoids" and "absolutes" are produced by extraction of the balsam with suitable hydrocarbon or alcoholic solvents and these are used by end-user industries in the formulation of fragrances and pharmaceutical preparations.

PRODUCTS OTHER THAN RESIN

The cultivation of S. tonkinensis in Viet Nam for pulp production has already been referred to. Over 50 000 ha have been established and the current planting rate is 3000 ha/year; the rotation is 10 years. In the People's Republic of China, S. tonkinensis is cultivated for both wood and balsam production.

DEVELOPMENTAL POTENTIAL

In Laos, collection of benzoin is an important cottage industry and widely practised by highland people, despite the relatively small size of the industry. If the figures for Indonesian exports cited earlier are correct, then an even larger number of people are involved in benzoin production in that country. Details are not available on the scale of cultivation of S. benzoin in Indonesia, but if it is anything approaching that of S. tonkinensis in Viet Nam, and if oleoresin production were coupled with wood production, then the potential for increased production of both types of benzoin is considerable. Whether this could be realized in practice depends on whether the international market can use more benzoin and, if so, whether the price to both the collector and the end-user is attractive enough to encourage increased production.

Research needs

If an appreciable amount of benzoin comes from cultivated sources, or it is sought to increase this proportion, then the economics of production could benefit greatly from the use of superior planting stock (in terms of oleoresin quality and yields). In this case, a screening programme aimed at identifying such material from different provenances of wild trees is desirable.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

ADAMSON, A.D. (1971) Oleoresins. Production and Markets with Particular Reference to the United Kingdom. Report G56. London: Tropical Products Institute [now Natural Resources Institute, Chatham].

De BEER, J.H. (1993) Benzoin, Styrax tonkinensis. p 17. In Non-Wood Forest Products in Indochina. Focus: Viet Nam. FAO Working Paper FO:Misc/93/5. Rome: FAO.

BOELENS, H.M., de RIJKE, D. and HARING, H.G. (1982) Studies of some balsamics in perfumery. Perfumer and Flavorist, 6(6), 7-14.

BP (1980) Siam benzoin/Sumatra benzoin. pp 51-53. In British Pharmacopoeia, Vol. 1. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

BP (1993) Sumatra benzoin. p 75. In British Pharmacopoeia, Vol. 1. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

DEN, X.Q., CHENG, S.P., PAN, N.X. and CHEN, J.L. (1978) [The effects of ethrel upon benzoin production and balsamic ducts of Styrax hypoglauca Perk.] (in Chinese, English summary). Acta Botanica Sinica, 20(1), 26-30.

FAO (1992) Benzoin gum [published in FAO Nutrition Meeting Report Series 57, 1977]. pp 187-188. In Compendium of Food Additive Specifications. FAO Food and Nutrition Paper 52 (Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. Combined Specifications from 1st through the 37th Meetings, 1956-1990). Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization.

HELLIWELL, K. and JENNINGS, P. (1983) A critical evaluation of commercial Sumatra benzoins. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 35(Supplement), 17P.

KETPHANH, S. (1994) Benzoin (Styrax tonkinensis). pp 5-7. In Country Paper of Lao. Paper presented at Regional Expert Consultation on Non-Wood Forest Products: Social, Economic and Cultural Dimensions, 28 Nov.- 2 Dec., 1994, Bangkok. Bangkok: FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

PINYOPUSARERK, K. (1994) Styrax Tonkinensis: Taxonomy, Ecology, Silviculture and Uses. ACIAR Technical Report 31. 14pp. Canberra: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.

SHAH, C.S., QADRY, J.S. and SHAH, B.K. (1971) Evaluation of market samples of benzoin. The Indian Journal of Pharmacy, 33(6), 119-120.

SILITONGA, T. (1994) Indonesia. pp 49-54. In Non-Wood Forest Products in Asia. 161 pp. Bangkok: FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.
 


Table 23. Benzoina: exports from Indonesia, and destinations, 1988-93
(tonnes)
 
 
 
1988b
1989 
1990 
1991 
1992 
1993b
Total 
1157 
975 
884 
1126 
806 
824 
Of which to :
Singapore 
1099 
881 
773 
1062 
735 
780 
Malaysia
36 
27 
17 
39 
China (Taiwan) 
21 
30 
14 
12 
United Arab Emirates 
20 
Kuwait 
16 
India 
59 
11 
Hong Kong 
16 
Pakistan 
16 
Japan 
12 
Saudi Arabia 

Source: National statistics

Notes: a Classified as "Frankincense" which SILITONGA (1994) states is
the resin from Styrax benzoin.

b Includes 3 tonnes in 1988 and 18 tonnes in 1993 which were
classified as "Gum Benjamin".

Table 24. Benzoin: exports from Thailand, and destinations, 1988-93
(tonnes)
 
 
 
1988 
1989 
1990 
1991 
1992 
1993 
Total 
17 
11 
14 
Of which to :
Hong Kong 
12 
Singapore 
Germany 
France 

Source: National statistics
 
 
 

STYRAX

DESCRIPTION AND USES

Styrax, sometimes called storax, is a balsamic oleoresin obtained from trees of the genus Liquidambar. So-called Asian styrax comes from L. orientalis of Asia Minor, while American styrax is obtained from L. styraciflua of Mexico and Central America.

Asian styrax is a semi-solid, sticky brown mass, somewhat heterogeneous in both colour and consistency. American styrax is usually darker, but cleaner, than Asian styrax. Like other balsams, both contain cinnamic acid or derivatives of cinnamic acid, although in the case of American styrax the typical balsamic odour is masked by a styrene-like odour.

An essential oil can be distilled from both types of styrax and this is more widely used by the fragrance industry than the oleoresin itself. It has a rich, balsamic odour and is often used in floral-type perfumes. Extraction of the crude oleoresin with an appropriate solvent furnishes a number of "resinoids" or "absolutes" which are also used in perfumery.

There has been some minor use of the balsams in pharmaceutical preparations such as bronchial medicines, and there is still some local use for medicinal purposes, particularly with oleoresins from some of the Asian species of Liquidambar.

WORLD SUPPLY AND DEMAND TRENDS

Markets

Trade statistics for styrax are not readily available, and in most cases importing countries do not separate it from other gums and resins. Consumption of both types of styrax might total a few hundred tonnes at most.

Exports of Asian styrax from Turkey ranged from 50 tonnes to 70 tonnes annually in the period 1961-69. The main importers then were the United Kingdom (the largest), Germany, France, Italy and the United States. Europe, where there are many processors and producers of essential oils and oleoresin extracts, probably remains the most important market for Asian styrax. The United States is the largest importer of American styrax.

Supply sources

Turkey is the only source of internationally traded Asian styrax, and since domestic consumption is small, the export data given above are a reasonable reflection, also, of production.

Most American styrax comes from Honduras, although Guatemala (and, to a lesser extent, Nicaragua) has produced small amounts in the past. The size of production from this region is not known.

Quality and prices

Asian styrax is impure and, as a result of its method of production, often contains substantial amounts of water. American styrax is slightly darker but generally of better quality.

An EOA standard specifies certain physico-chemical requirements for oil of American styrax.

Published commodity prices (mid-1995) list Turkish styrax at about US$ 11.75/kg, CIF London.

PLANT SOURCES

Botanical/common names

Family Hamamelidaceae:

Liquidambar orientalis Mill. Asian styrax/storax
L. styraciflua L. American styrax/storax

Description and distribution

L. orientalis is a medium-sized tree, usually 6-12 m tall but sometimes higher. It is native to Turkey and surrounding regions.

L. styraciflua is a large tree which grows wild in some parts of the southern and eastern United States, and in Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala.

L. formosana H. occurs in Southeast Asia (People's Republic of China, Viet Nam and elsewhere) but the oleoresin, although used locally, is not believed to enter world trade.

COLLECTION/PRIMARY PROCESSING

In L. orientalis, the balsam is present in the sapwood and bark of the tree. The traditional method of obtaining Asian styrax is to remove pieces of bark and boil them in water. The crude, softened balsam separates out and settles to the bottom of the vessel, from which the water is subsequently decanted. Further quantities of balsam are obtained by pressing the "extracted" bark to remove any residual material. Some styrax is also obtained by making incisions into the exposed stemwood and either collecting the exudate in small cans fixed to the tree or scraping it off directly.

Preliminary cleaning of Asian styrax is undertaken by combining the different lots of crude balsam and washing it in boiling water. The dirty water is again removed by decantation and the soft, fluid oleoresin is separated from the lower layer of sand, dirt, etc.

In Honduras, it is more usual to collect the styrax by tapping only, without treatment of the separated bark. A small gutter and cup are fixed to the tree and a cut is made in the stem where the pockets of balsam are located.

Yields

No reliable yield data are available, although it is known that there can be considerable tree-to-tree variation. In the older literature, average yields of around 20 kg of balsam per tree were claimed for American styrax in Honduras.

VALUE-ADDED PROCESSING

As already noted, crude styrax is rarely used as such. Steam distillation of the oleoresin yields an essential oil which is of more value than the oleoresin itself. The crude balsam is often saponified prior to distillation to release cinnamyl alcohol.

Extracts are also widely used and are prepared using hydrocarbon or alcoholic solvents.

PRODUCTS OTHER THAN RESIN

No other products of economic value are known to be obtained from the trees.

DEVELOPMENTAL POTENTIAL

A judgement on the developmental potential of styrax requires a greater knowledge of the demand for it than is presently available. If labour costs in Turkey increase to the point where it becomes uneconomic to produce, or the people become less inclined to want to undertake the tasks involved in production, then there may be opportunities for producers of styrax from other botanical sources, particularly those in Southeast Asia. This would depend, however, on the balsam (and the oil and extracts derived from it) having quality characteristics that make it acceptable to end-users.

Research needs

Apart from market research, including Japanese and other Asian markets (as outlets for any balsam from newly developed Asian sources), it would be desirable to examine the properties and quality characteristics of alternative sources of styrax. Only if these preliminary investigations showed promise would it be worth expending more effort in examining the technical and economic aspects of production.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

ADAMSON, A.D. (1971) Oleoresins. Production and Markets with Particular Reference to the United Kingdom. Report G56. London: Tropical Products Institute [now Natural Resources Institute, Chatham].

BOELENS, H.M., de RIJKE, D. and HARING, H.G. (1982) Studies of some balsamics in perfumery. Perfumer and Flavorist, 6(6), 7-14.

EOA (1975) Oil styrax. EOA No. 153. 2 pp. Essential Oil Association of USA.

FURIA, T.E. and BELLANCA,N. (1971) Storax. pp 231-233. In Fenaroli's Handbook of Flavour Ingredients. Cleveland, USA: The Chemical Rubber Co.

GUENTHER, E. (1952) Oil of styrax. pp 243-254. In The Essential Oils, Vol. 5. New York: Van Nostrand Co.

IGOLEN, G. (1972) [Anatolie styrax] (in French). Rivista Italiana EPPOS, 54, 554-558.

IVANOV, C.P., YANKOV, L.K. and THO, P.T.T. (1969) On the composition of the essential oil from the resin of Liquidambar formosana H. Rivista Italiana EPPOS, 51, 380-384.

PERU and TOLU BALSAMS

DESCRIPTION AND USES

Both balsams are oleoresin exudates obtained from trees of the genus Myroxylon which are native to Central America and northern parts of South America. Peru balsam is a dark brown, very viscous liquid, with a typically "balsamic" odour, somewhat resembling vanilla. Tolu balsam is a brownish yellow, plastic solid when fresh, but becomes harder, and eventually brittle, on exposure to air.

Peru balsam

Peru balsam is sometimes used in its natural form in perfumery, where it acts as a fixative, but its dark colour is a disadvantage, as is the insolubility of some of its constituents in other perfume materials. The oil or resin-free preparations of the balsam are therefore more widely used in perfumery than the balsam itself. The odour tenacity of the oil is very great and it is used as a fixative in perfumes.

Peru balsam contains a mixture of benzyl benzoate and benzyl cinnamate and these confer a mild antiseptic action on the balsam; it is used in some pharmaceutical preparations for treating skin disorders.

Tolu balsam

Tolu balsam has a similar mixture of benzoic and cinnamic acid esters to Peru balsam and has fragrance and pharmaceutical uses. The balsam itself is rarely used, but the essential oil is used in perfumery and a few flavour applications, while solvent extracts are employed as fixatives in perfumery. Tolu balsam is used as an expectorant and as a flavouring compound in cough mixtures and other pharmaceutical preparations, often in combination with other balsams, although, today, many Tolu syrups are synthetic mixtures rather than ones which contain the genuine balsam.

WORLD SUPPLY AND DEMAND TRENDS

Markets

Peru and Tolu balsams are not separately identified in the trade statistics of gums and resins for most countries and import data are therefore not readily available. In the 1940s, exports of Peru balsam from El Salvador were around 100 tonnes annually and the United States was the major importer. In 1971 it was estimated that the United Kingdom perfumery industry consumed up to 50 tonnes/year of Peru balsam.

Exports of Tolu balsam were around 80 tonnes/year in the 1940s. Recent import data are available for India (Table 25) and indicate that she normally imports about 10 tonnes/year. Imports were exceptionally high in 1992/93 (30 tonnes) but it is not certain whether the imports from Southeast Asia (which totalled 21 tonnes in 1992/93 and amounted to up to 5 tonnes in previous years) are of genuine Tolu balsam, despite their classification as such.

In the last decade or so, the use of genuine tolu balsam in pharmaceutical preparations has declined, and so-called synthetic Tolu solutions and syrups are manufactured using commercially available benzoic and cinnamic acids and their esters.

Supply sources

Despite its name, El Salvador is the chief source of Peru balsam. Colombia is the main source of Tolu balsam, although Venezuela has been a minor supplier in the past. No production data are available for either of the two products.

European sources of Tolu balsam given in Table 25 represent re-exports of South American material.

Quality and prices

In terms of chemical composition, the quality of the two balsams is very variable. However, balsams (or their oils) which are offered for sale are often compounded or blended materials or, in the case of Tolu balsam, totally synthetic, and analysis of them will not necessarily be a reflection of the composition of the genuine article.

The British Pharmacopoeia defines Peru balsam as containing 45-70% of esters, mainly benzyl benzoate and benzyl cinnamate; it should also have a saponification value of 230-255. Tolu balsam does not appear in the British Pharmacopoeia (only syrups and solutions).

The current (mid-1995) New York listed price of Tolu balsam is equivalent to US$ 15/kg; a London list price is equivalent to about US$ 11.75/kg. Peru balsam is listed at US$ 13.50/kg in London.

PLANT SOURCES

Botanical/common names

Family Leguminosae:

Myroxylon balsamum L. Harms
var. pereirae (Royale) Harms Peru balsam
(syn. M. pereirae (Royale) Klotzsch)
M. balsamum L. Harms Tolu balsam

Description and distribution

M. balsamum var. pereirae is a large tree of Central America, although almost all Peru balsam of commerce originates in El Salvador.

M. balsamum is a tall tree of the forests of northern South America, particularly Colombia and Venezuela; it is also found in Cuba. The name Tolu comes from the province of Tolu in Colombia, where M. balsamum was particularly common along the Magdalena and Cauca rivers.

COLLECTION/PRIMARY PROCESSING

Peru balsam

Methods described in the 1950s and late 1960s for the collection of Peru balsam involve firstly the removal of bark from the tree; the balsam is then extracted from both the bark and the exposed trunk in a separate operation.

Rectangular strips of bark are removed from trees which have previously been beaten or scorched by fire and left for 6-8 days (during which time the bark softens). Intermediate strips of bark are left sound to avoid permanent damage to the tree. The removed bark is then crushed and pressed in the presence of hot water which softens the balsam and facilitates its extraction. The exposed trunk wood is covered with rags which absorb the balsam and these are also treated with hot water. In both cases (bark and rags), the balsam settles to the bottom of the containing vessels and is removed after decanting the water. Up to 18 "tappings" can be made each year at approximately two-week intervals.

Older methods of primary processing involved heating the balsam over an open fire to remove residual moisture and straining it while still hot to remove extraneous matter.

Tolu balsam

The traditional method of collecting the balsam is to make V-shaped cuts into the bark of the tree which just reach the phloem but not the cambium. Each cut is about 5 mm thick and the V has a maximum width of 7-10 cm. Two more V-cuts, with a more open V than the first, are made above the original cut, and the resin which is caused to flow runs down the trunk into a suitable receiver fixed to the tree. Several receivers may be in place at any one time. Fresh cuts are made at intervals throughout the year. In the second year, part of the trunk above the first area is worked. This may be repeated for a third year, after which time the tree is rested for three years before further tapping. Alternatively, the tree is tapped in alternate years.

Crude processing is carried out in a manner similar to Peru balsam.

Yields

Average yields of Peru balsam have been reported to be about 2.5-3.5 kg/tree/year. Trees of 25-30 years of age may be tapped but productivity increases as the trees get older, reaching a maximum at about 60 years. Highest yields are obtained during the hot, dry periods of the year.

WILLIAMS (1974) reports that in a year (1968) when yields were generally regarded as low by the tappers, the average yield of Tolu balsam at one collection site was 1.7 kg/tree.

VALUE-ADDED PROCESSING

Steam distillation of Peru balsam gives a very low yield of genuine essential oil, and most oil which is used is obtained either by direct distillation under vacuum or by extraction with a suitable solvent. The true, total oil is semi-solid at ambient temperature, and commercial oils which are viscous liquids are therefore likely to contain diluents.

Tolu balsam oil can be produced in low yields by steam or direct distillation of the balsam. Tolu "absolutes" and "resinoids" are produced by extraction with organic solvents.

PRODUCTS OTHER THAN RESIN

No other products of commercial value are obtained from the trees.

DEVELOPMENTAL POTENTIAL

Myroxylon species are amenable to cultivation and WILLIAMS (1974) reports a M. balsamum plantation 3- years old in which trees planted under shade were less than 1 m in height, but those in the open reached 3-5 m and 10 cm in diameter. The market for both types of balsam is relatively small, although not insignificant, and the economics of production are not known, but if land is available to set aside for such planting - perhaps taking advantage of the leguminous nature of the trees by planting with shorter term crops in an agroforestry context - then the trees could provide a useful cash income in later years.

Research needs

Apart from the pressing need for up-to-date market information, several areas of research are immediately identifiable:

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

ADAMSON, A.D. (1971) Oleoresins. Production and Markets with Particular Reference to the United Kingdom. Report G56. London: Tropical Products Institute [now Natural Resources Institute, Chatham].

BOELENS, H.M., de RIJKE, D. and HARING, H.G. (1982) Studies of some balsamics in perfumery. Perfumer and Flavorist, 6(6), 7-14.

BP (1993) Peru Balsam. pp 495?496. In British Pharmacopoeia, Vol. 1. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

GUENTHER, E. (1952) Oil of balsam Peru. pp 212?220. In The Essential Oils, Vol. 5. New York: Van Nostrand Co.

GUENTHER, E. (1952) Oil of balsam Tolu. pp 220?225. In The Essential Oils, Vol. 5. New York: Van Nostrand Co.

HARKISS, K.J. and LINLEY, P.A. (1979) A comparative study of the acid and ester content of Tolu balsam. Planta Medica, 35, 61-65.

WALKER, G.T. (1968) Balsam of Peru. Perfumery and Essential Oil Record, 59, 705-707.

WILLIAMS, J. (1974) [Preliminary study of the production of resin from Tolu balsam] (in Spanish). Bosques de Colombia, (July), 31-55.
 


Table 25. Tolu balsam: imports into India, and sources, 1987/88-1992/93a
(tonnes)
 
 
 
87/88 
88/89 
89/90 
90/91 
91/92 
92/93 
Total 
12 
11 
13 
30 
Of which from :
Germany 
UK 
France 
Indonesia 
 
Malaysia 
Singapore 
Thailand 
16 

Source: National statistics

Note: a : Year runs April-March
 

COPAIBA

DESCRIPTION AND USES

Copaiba balsam is an oleoresin obtained from certain Amazonian species of Copaifera. Although distillation of the oleoresin provides an essential oil, the term "copaiba oil" is sometimes also applied to the oleoresin itself, since the crude material occurs naturally in a very liquid form.

Crude copaiba balsam is a clear, pale yellow oil which darkens and becomes less fluid on prolonged storage or exposure to air. It is employed by the fragrance industry as a fixative in perfumes and in other products such as soaps.

In Brazil, which is the main source of copaiba balsam, it is also employed in pharmaceutical applications, mainly as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Most pharmacies sell copaiba oil, either in small bottles over the counter or in the form of capsules. The oil is also added to shampoos, soaps and cosmetics, which are promoted for their value in treating skin complaints and numerous other disorders.

WORLD SUPPLY AND DEMAND TRENDS

Markets

Exports of copaiba from Brazil for the period 1986?92, and their destinations, are shown in Table 26. The international market for copaiba (either the balsam or distilled oil) is probably around 100 tonnes/year. The major importers are the United States, France and Germany ? accounting for approximately 50%, 30% and 15%, respectively ? and the major consumer is the fragrance industry. Use by the international fragrance market largely depends on prices of substitute materials. Copaiba oil is considered relatively inexpensive by the perfume industry, suggesting that there is little scope for increased use.

The Brazilian market is larger than the international one and is, perhaps, of the order of 300-500 tonnes annually. Usage is divided between the fragrance and pharmaceutical industries.

Demand for copaiba oil internationally is only likely to increase if there were to be wider use of it for pharmaceutical purposes. Demand on the domestic Brazilian market appears secure although, equally, the established markets are unlikely to grow significantly in the medium term.

Supply sources

Brazil has historically been the major producer and exporter of copaiba and this remains the case today. Neighbouring countries produce small amounts of copaiba but this is mostly used domestically.

Some Brazilian production data are shown in Table 26. There must be some considerable under-recording since production figures for the years shown are consistently less than exports, without taking into account the even larger domestic consumption. Smaller quantities have been available to the market from Venezuela, the Guianas and Colombia. In all these countries, primary production has been dependent upon the tapping of wild forest trees.

Annual fluctuations in Brazilian production are due to variations in river levels, which give access to the collection areas. Transportation of both collectors and the balsam is by means of boats and the upstream sites cannot be visited in years when river levels are low. More than 90% of Brazilian copaiba production comes from Amazonas state; most of the balance comes from Pará.

Brazilian exports of copaiba shown in Table 26 are at a similar level to those recorded since 1978 (COPPEN et al., 1994) and have fluctuated around 70 tonnes/year with no discernable trend.

Quality and prices

There are no international standards for copaiba or its distilled oil, although in the United States an EOA standard for the oil specifies various physico-chemical requirements. Copaiba which has stood for some time without protection from the air or light is liable to be rather variable in quality, and may show signs of discolouration and resinification.

Export data indicate an average FOB value of US$ 7-8/kg in 1990 and 1991, and about US$ 3.90/kg in 1992. Traders in Brazil were quoting prices of around US$ 7.50/kg FOB Belém in early 1993.

Published wholesale purchase prices for copaiba balsam in New York are currently (mid-1995) US$ 10.50-11.00/kg. In London, copaiba is listed at around US$ 10.25/kg (CIF).

PLANT SOURCES

Botanical/common names

Family Leguminosae:

Copaifera reticulata Ducke Oil/balsam: copaiba,
C. guianensis Desf. copaiva, copahyba
C. multijuga Hayne
C. officinalis Jacq.
C. langsdorffii Desf.

Description and distribution

Copaifera species occur in Africa and South America but the only ones which yield commercially useful oleoresin are those found in the forests of Amazonia. (As noted earlier, some African Copaifera were once used as sources of certain types of copal). The trees grow up to 30 m high and are widely distributed along the Amazon and its tributaries, although in very variable densities, often only thinly scattered.

C. reticulata, C. guianensis and C. multijuga are the principal Brazilian sources of copaiba. C. reticulata has been stated in the past as accounting for 70% of Brazilian copaiba production. C. langsdorffii is a cerrado source of oil but is not believed to be traded in any significant amounts. C. officinalis is the traditional main source of copaiba in Colombia, Venezuela and the Guianas.

COLLECTION/PRIMARY PROCESSING

Copaiba oleoresin accumulates in cavities within the trunk which join and form reservoirs of clear liquid in the centre (core) of the tree. Tapping is carried out by drilling a hole into the tree about 1 m above ground. A bamboo tube provided with a simple stopcock is inserted and this enables the flow of oleoresin to be controlled. Sometimes a second hole is made some distance above the first. After the flow of oil has ceased a plug of wood or clay is used to seal the hole. The interval between visits to the tree to make a new hole is anything from 3 months to a year or more.

The only treatment of the oleoresin which is undertaken prior to any large-scale distillation is the removal of extraneous matter by filtration; this is usually carried out by traders before sale to the factory.

Yields

The yield of balsam per tree is very variable and depends on the species of Copaifera tapped, the age of the tree, the period of time since the previous tapping and the season. Estimates given by traders in Brazil for oleoresin yields differ widely and yields of up to 15 litres or more are quoted.

Relatively recent tapping studies (ALENCAR, 1982) have revealed high variability in yields between individual trees growing under the same conditions. A maximum mean yield of 0.25 litres of oleoresin per tree was obtained for the first tapping. The highest yield of oleoresin was almost 3 litres, but a third of the trees produced no oleoresin at all, and four further tappings over a 3 1/2 -year period yielded progressively less.

VALUE-ADDED PROCESSING

Distillation of the crude oleoresin or oil - which is only undertaken by companies with large-scale fractionation facilities - furnishes a paler, refined oil, free of any polymeric and other high-boiling material which may have been produced by natural degradation of the original.

PRODUCTS OTHER THAN RESIN

Some use is made of the wood for sawtimber. The wood is also reputed to make good charcoal.

DEVELOPMENTAL POTENTIAL

The possible use of copaiba oil as a substitute for diesel fuel has attracted some attention from researchers in the past, and in the late 1970s/early 1980s there was speculation that Copaifera might be grown on a plantation scale as an energy source. However, it was conceded at the time that the economics of such a venture would probably not be favourable and there is no evidence that the situation has improved since then.

The tree provides no other potentially useful product which would make it attractive as a multipurpose tree (apart, possibly, from timber), and with no firm evidence that copaiba can penetrate the international pharmaceutical market (and therefore generate increased demand) or that present supplies from traditional exploitation of the wild resource cannot be maintained, there is no strong case for assigning a priority to research on formal cultivation of copaiba.

Research into improved tapping techniques for use with wild trees is also difficult to justify. The physical form of the oleoresin does not lend itself to adapting tapping methods used for some of the more viscous or harder resins.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

ALENCAR, J.C. (1982) [Silvicultural studies of a natural population of Copaifera multijuga Hayne of Central Amazonia. 2. Production of oleoresin] (in Portuguese). Acta Amazonica, 12(1), 75-89.

BERTHIER, A. (1982) [Copahu balsam] (in French). Parfums, Cosmétiques, Arômes, (46), 29-30.

CALVIN, C. (1983) New sources for fuel and materials. Science, 219(7 January), 24-26.

COPPEN, J.J.W., GORDON, A. and GREEN, C.L. (1994) The developmental potential of selected Amazonian non-wood forest products: an appraisal of opportunities and constraints. Paper presented at the FAO Expert Consultation Meeting on Non-Wood Forest Products, Santiago, Chile, 4-8 July.

EOA (1975) Copaiba oil. EOA No. 10. 1 p. Essential Oil Association of USA.

GUENTHER, E. (1952) Oil of balsam copaiba. pp 203-211. In The Essential Oils, Vol. 5. New York: Van Nostrand Co.

MORS, W.B. and RIZZINI, C.T. (1966) Trees with trunk exudates. pp 42-48. In Useful Plants of Brazil. San Francisco/London: Holden-Day.

ZONTA, A. and ESPINOZA, O.L. (1994) [Copaibo oil] (in Spanish). pp 26-27. In [Non-wood forest products in Bolivia]. Paper presented at the FAO Expert Consultation Meeting on Non-Wood Forest Products, Santiago, Chile, 4-8 July.
 


Table 26. Copaiba: production and exports from Brazil, 1986-92
(tonnes)
 
 
 
1986 
1987 
1988 
1989 
1990 
1991 
1992 
Production 
43 
99 
54 
49 
na 
Na 
na 
Exports 
47 
114 
94 
59 
51 
95 
56 
Of which to :
France 
17 
26 
15 
na 
22 
Na 
na 
Germany 
14 
10 
13 
na 
14 
Na 
na 
USA 
68 
52 
na 
10 
Na 
na 
Mexico 
na 
Na 
na 
UK 
na 
Na 
na 
Spain 
na 
Na 
na 
Netherlands 
na 
Na 
na 

Source: National statistics (taken from COPPEN et al. 1994)
 

ELEMI

DESCRIPTION AND USES

The term "elemi" has been applied in the past to a large number of oleoresins from a variety of geographic and botanical sources (see PLANT SOURCES below). Nowadays, however, the term is almost always used to describe the product from the Philippines, Manila elemi, which is the only one that is traded internationally, and most of the rest of the discussion focuses on this.

Manila elemi is the soft, fragrant oleoresin obtained from the trunk of Canarium species, the most important of which is C. luzonicum. When fresh, the oleoresin is oily and pale yellow or greenish in colour, resembling crystallized honey in consistency, but on exposure to air it loses some of the volatile constituents and hardens. It has a balsamic odour and a spicy, rather bitter taste.

In the forest areas where it is collected it is rolled in leaves and used for lighting purposes, but in commerce it is used mainly by the fragrance industry after distillation of the essential oil. It still finds occasional use as an ingredient in lacquers and varnishes, where it gives toughness and elasticity to the dried film.

WORLD SUPPLY AND DEMAND TRENDS

Markets

Exports of Manila elemi from the Philippines for the period 1988-93 are given in Table 27. Annual totals have been somewhat erratic but average almost 300 tonnes, with a peak of over 600 tonnes in 1990.

France is the largest single market, accounting for up to three quarters of the total exported from the Philippines, and it is presumed that the elemi is used principally or solely for fragrance purposes. Germany is the second biggest market, and exports to Japan have increased slowly but significantly. The United Kingdom, United States and Switzerland are other, sometimes erratic, importers.

The trend is difficult to predict but, at least, does not appear to be down, and with continued supply of elemi the market is likely to be able to sustain levels of around 200-300 tonnes annually.

Supply sources

Although the source of Manila elemi, C. luzonicum, occurs on other islands in the Pacific (where it may have potential for exploitation; see DEVELOPMENTAL POTENTIAL), the Philippines are the only source of internationally traded elemi. Export figures are as given in Table 27.

Quality and prices

Three classes of Manila elemi exist for domestic and export trade, although the designations are not always adhered to: class I (within which there are two grades), class II (two grades) and class III (one grade). Class I represents the palest material (the two grades being clean or non-clean), class II a more yellowish material, and class III a mixture of I and II. The softer grades are the higher quality, reflecting a higher essential oil content compared with the harder grades.

In the last four years for which data are available, the FOB export value per kg for Manila elemi has been US$ 1.74 (1990), US$ 1.73 (1991), US$ 1.67 (1992) and US$ 2.08 (1993). Currently (mid?1995) there is reported to be a shortage and prices quoted by London importers are in the range US$ 4.20-4.50/kg (cf US$ 2.25/kg a year earlier). Prices for elemi fluctuate more than for most other resins.

PLANT SOURCES

Botanical/common names

Family Burseraceae:

Canarium luzonicum (Bl.) A. Gray Pili, piling-liitan
(syn. C. polyanthum Perkins, (resin: elemi, sahing,
C. olignanthum Merrill) brea blanca)
C. ovatum Engl. Pili nut
C. indicum L. (syn. C. commune L., Java almond, kenari
C. amboinense Hochr.) nut, ngali nut
C. schweinfurthii Engl.

C. luzonicum is probably the only source of commercially traded Manila elemi, although C. ovatum, C. indicum and C. schweinfurthii are known to produce resin which is, or has been, used locally. Other species of Canarium undoubtedly produce resin if wounded.

Other genera which yield gums or resins which have been traded in the past as elemis include Protium (which produces "breu branco" or Brazilian elemi), Amyris (Mexican elemi) and Dacryodes (West Indian elemi). They are not discussed further.

Description and distribution

Canarium is a genus of big shade trees in the Old World tropics, chiefly Malaysia to the Philippines, but extending to Papua New Guinea and other Pacific islands, which are often highly prized for their edible fruits and nuts. C. luzonicum is a large tree up to 35 m tall and 1 m in diameter. It is found in primary forests at low and medium elevations in Luzon and some other islands of the Philippines.

C. ovatum is a large, buttressed tree, reaching up to 20 m in height, and native to the Philippines.

C. indicum reaches as high as 40 m and occurs in parts of Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and other islands in the Pacific.

C. schweinfurthii grows to 50 m in height and is found outside the usual Canarium region, in tropical West and Central Africa. In the past it has been an occasional source of "African elemi".

COLLECTION/PRIMARY PROCESSING

In a survey of tapping methods practised in the Philippines (ALONZO and ORDINARIO, 1972), tappers used a sharp "bolo" and a wooden mallet to make a series of cuts up the trunk of the tree, each cut resulting in removal of bark and exudation of the oleoresin. The diameter of the trees tapped was in the range 20-60 cm. The initial strip of bark which is removed should be 2 cm high and not more than 30 cm wide. Subsequent strips (1 cm high) are removed at approximately two?day intervals above and adjacent to the previous one, and tapping is continued as high as the person can reach. A second face may be opened close to the first, providing at least one third of the circumference of the bark of the tree is left intact.

The exuded, sticky mass is collected at two-week intervals, usually by scraping it off the tree with a blunt-tipped bolo or stick.

After transport to the towns, elemi which is destined for export is cleaned by manual removal of as much bark and other forest debris as possible. The cleaned resin is then packed in polythene-lined kerosene cans.

Yields

Yields are known to vary from tree to tree, but no reliable quantitative data are available; yields of 4-5 kg of resin per tree annually have been reported in the older literature. Tapping is usually a year-round activity, but resin flow is at its greatest during the rainy season and little, if any, may be collected in the dry months.

VALUE-ADDED PROCESSING

The crude oleoresin contains a high proportion of essential oil, around 25%, and this can be recovered by the simple process of steam distillation. The freshly distilled oil is liable to resinify and polymerize on standing, and for this reason distillation is normally carried out in the importing country, where it can be formulated soon after preparation.

A resinoid is also sometimes prepared by solvent extraction of the crude elemi.

PRODUCTS OTHER THAN RESIN

Although usually restricted to local use, many species of Canarium are used as sources of edible fruits and nuts, and provide valuable fat and protein in the diets of very many people in the Pacific region. The Chinese olive, from C. album, is exceptional in being exported to other regions of Southeast Asia and, occasionally, further afield. Recent work in the Solomon Islands on the ngali nut (from C. indicum var. indicum) has shown this, too, to have considerable promise as an export item, although it is not known whether the tree is also a potential source of resin.

It has been suggested that the essential oil of C. luzonicum could be blended with diesel oil and used as a motor fuel, but at the moment this application remains speculative.

DEVELOPMENTAL POTENTIAL

C. ovatum and some other resin-yielding species of Canarium are already grown as sources of fruits and nuts and integration with resin tapping would be a welcome development, providing one does not adversely affect the other. The method of tapping described is not unlike that used to obtain resin from pine trees, and if the international market can absorb more elemi, there are grounds for optimism that improved methods of tapping Canarium could be developed which would lead to higher yields of better quality oleoresin than at present.

Research needs

Some work to develop improved varieties of Canarium for fruit and nut production has already been carried out, and since cultivation for this purpose is likely to remain the primary activity, research on resin production should be complementary to that on fruit and nuts. Several aspects need to be researched:

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

ABARQUEZ, A.H. (1982) Pili management for resin and nut production. Canopy International, 8(4), 14-15.

ALONZO, D.S. and ORDINARIO, F.F. (1972) Tapping, collection and marketing practices of Manila elemi in Marinduque and Quezon provinces. The Philippine Lumberman, 18(Jun), 26-32.

ANON. (1972) Manila Elemi. FPRI Technical Note No. 122. 2pp. Laguna, the Philippines: Forest Products Research and Industries Development Commission.

EVANS, B.R. (1991) A Variety Collection of Edible Nut Tree Crops in Solomon Islands [including the ngali nut]. Research Bulletin No. 8. Honiara, Solomon Islands: Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.

GRIFFITHS, D.A. (1993) Canarium: pili nuts, Chinese olives and resin. West Australian Nut and Tree Crops Association Yearbook, 17, 32-45.

GUENTHER, E. (1952) Oil of elemi. pp 357-360. In The Essential Oils, Vol. 4. New York: Van Nostrand Co.

OLIVEROZ-BELARDO, L. et al. (1985) Preliminary study on the essential oil of Canarium luzonicum (Blume) A. Gray as a possible supplement to diesel oil. Transactions of the National Academy of Science and Technology, 7, 219-232.

SAWADOGO, M. et al. (1985) Oleoresin of Canarium schweinfurthii Engl. Annales Pharmaceutiques Françaises, 43(1), 89-96.

TONGACAN, A.L. (1973) Manila elemi. Forpride Digest, 2(2), 6-7, 18.

VILLANUEVA, M.A., TORRES, R.C., BASER, K.H.C., OZEK, T. and KURKCUOGLU, M. (1993) The composition of Manila elemi oil. Flavour and Fragrance Journal, 8(1), 35-37.
 
 

Table 27. Manila elemi: exports from the Philippines, and destinations, 1988-93
(tonnes)
 
 
 
1988 
1989 
1990 
1991 
1992 
1993 
Total 
191 
298 
611 
145 
176 
330 
Of which to :
France 
149 
191 
442 
90 
103 
142 
Germany 
33 
63 
20 
31 
60 
Japan 
12 
12 
27 
23 
44 
UK 
12 
36 
25 
USA 
15 
15 
Switzerland 
15 
78 
China (Taiwan) 
28 
Hong Kong 
17 
Netherlands 
Italy 
Spain 
Finland 
10 

Source: National statistics

ASAFOETIDA and GALBANUM

DESCRIPTION AND USES

Asafoetida

Asafoetida is the oleoresin exudate obtained from certain Ferula species, particularly F. asafoetida, which occur in Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran and surrounding areas. The product is one of the few examples (another one is tragacanth gum) of an exudate which is obtained by "tapping" the roots of a shrubby plant.

Asafoetida has a strong, characteristic odour (due to the presence of sulphur compounds) and extracts of "asafoetida hing" - derived from three main species (see below) - are used in spice blends and as a flavouring for meat sauces, pickles, currys and other food products. Since it is so strong in taste and odour, asafoetida is often blended with diluents such as starch and flour and sold in a compounded form.

An essential oil can be distilled from the oleoresin and finds minor use for flavouring purposes.

"Asafoetida hingra" - from two other Ferula species - are used in pharmaceutical preparations.

Galbanum

Galbanum is another oleoresin exudate produced from a Ferula species: F. galbaniflua. It is obtained from the cut stem. Extracts of the oleoresin and the distilled essential oil contain a number of sulphurous compounds and they are used to a limited extent as perfume fixatives.

WORLD SUPPLY AND DEMAND TRENDS

Markets

Export data from the producing countries are not readily available and imports into, say, the European Community or Japan are not identifiable since they are not listed separately for asafoetida and galbanum. It is therefore extremely difficult to estimate international demand.

India is a large importer of asafoetida and imports for the years 1987/88-92/93 are shown in Table 28. Except for 1990/91, when 1 000 tonnes were imported, levels of imports have been around 500-700 tonnes/year.

Although India is a net importer of asafoetida it also exports significant amounts; these exports are believed to be largely re-exports of imported material rather than originating from indigenous production. Exports for the period 1987/88-93/94, and their destinations, are given in Table 29. Middle East countries are seen to be an important destination and the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait are all consistent importers; the United Arab Emirates averaged almost 50 tonnes annually.

Supply sources

Table 28 shows that Afghanistan was by far the largest supplier of asafoetida to India, averaging 525 tonnes annually outside the peak year 1990/91, when 950 tonnes were exported. Exports from both Iran and Pakistan, the only other sources of Indian imports, increased sharply in 1992/93 to about 160 tonnes and 120 tonnes respectively (compared to annual averages of about 30 tonnes and 20 tonnes, respectively, for previous years).

Iran is a source of galbanum.

Quality and prices

Asafoetida

Tears are the purest form of the resin and these are grey or dull yellow in colour, although they sometimes darken to a reddish brown colour on storage.

The more common form is where tears have agglomerated into a solid mass, usually with fragments of root, sand and other extraneous matter present. Commercial samples are often in the form of a paste and may be very variable in quality, sometimes containing added "inert" diluents.

The chief constituents of asafoetida are "resin" (40-65%), "gum" (ca 25%) and essential oil; reasonably fresh asafoetida usually contains around 7-9% of essential oil, although it varies with origin and may be as high as 20%.

A current (mid-1995) London spot price for asafoetida (no grade stated) is US$ 12/kg.

Galbanum

Galbanum of commerce is usually in the form of agglutinated tears, about the size of peas and orange-brown on the outside, yellowish white or blue-green inside. Like asafoetida, it is often mixed with extraneous matter and can be very variable in quality.

The major constituents are "resin" (50-70%), "gum" (ca 20%) and essential oil (5-20%).

PLANT SOURCES

Botanical/common names

Family Umbelliferae:

Ferula asafoetida L. }
F. alliacea Boiss. } Asafoetida hing
F. narthex Boiss. }

F. foetida Regel ] Asafoetida hingra
F. rubricaulis Boiss. ]

F. galbaniflua Boiss. & Buhse Galbanum

Description and distribution

Of the asafoetida-yielding Ferula species, the most important is F. asafoetida. The plants grow to a height of 1.5-3 m and the shrubby foliage grows annually from a perennial rootstock. The species are indigenous to parts of Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran and northwest India, where they are found on the arid plains and high plateaus. They also grow in some parts of North Africa.

F. galbaniflua occurs in Iran and northwest India.

COLLECTION/PRIMARY PROCESSING

Asafoetida

Just prior to the flowering stage the plants are cut above the ground and the taproot/rhizome exposed. A small quantity of "latex" exudes and this is collected every few days; exposure to the air causes the latex to form first a soft exudate and then one which is hard and discoloured. Sometimes the root is sliced every few days to produce more exudate.

Galbanum

The stem of F. galbaniflua is cut to produce an orange-yellow gummy fluid which, again, hardens on exposure to air.

Yields

No information is available on resin yields.

VALUE-ADDED PROCESSING

Further processing of the crude resin entails either blending (as mentioned for asafoetida, above), steam distillation to produce an essential oil, or preparation of an extract using an appropriate solvent. Extraction with a hydrocarbon solvent yields a "resinoid", while alcohol extraction gives an "absolute". Both types of extract are semi-solid and dark brown or red-brown in colour.

PRODUCTS OTHER THAN RESIN

There are no other products of commercial value obtained from the plants.

DEVELOPMENTAL POTENTIAL

In the absence of detailed knowledge on the size and trend in the markets for the two resins it is impossible to know whether the existing, wild resource is sufficient to meet demand, or whether there is scope for some production from new, cultivated sources.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

McANDREW, B.A. and MICHALKIEWICZ, D.M. (1988) Analysis of galbanum oils. pp 573-585. In Flavors and Fragrances: A World Perspective. Proceedings of 10th International Congress of Essential Oils, Fragrances and Flavors, Washington DC, 16-20 November, 1986. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

RAGHAVAN,B., ABRAHAM, K.O., SHANKARANARAYANA, M.L., SASTRY, L.V.L. and NATARAJAN, C.P. (1974) Asafoetida II. Chemical composition and physicochemical properties. The Flavour Industry, 5(7/8), 179-181.

SAMIMI, M.N. and UNGER, W. (1979) [The gum resins of Afghan asafoetida-producing Ferula species. Observations on the provenance and quality of Afghan asafoetida] (in German). Planta Medica, 36(2), 128-133.

SHIVASHANKAR, S., SHANKARANARAYANA, M.L. and NATARAJAN, C.P. (1972) Asafoetida - varieties, chemical composition, standards and uses. Indian Food Packer, 26(2), 36-44.
 
 

Table 28. Asafoetida: imports into India, and sources, 1987/88-1992/93a
(tonnes)
 
 
 
87/88 
88/89 
89/90 
90/91 
91/92 
92/93 
Total 
715 
630 
492 
1006 
649 
619 
Of which from :
Afghanistan 
681 
574 
428 
956 
606 
337 
Iran 
19 
27 
26 
30 
38 
165 
Pakistan 
13 
29 
34 
20 
117 

Source: National statistics

Note: a : Year runs April-March
 
 

Table 29. Asafoetida: exports from India, and destinations, 1987/88-1993/94a
(tonnes)
 
 
 
87/88 
88/89 
89/90 
90/91 
91/92 
92/93 
93/94 
Total 
140 
144 
149 
130 
164 
231 
205 
Of wich to: 
United Arab Emirates 
33 
39 
39 
31 
59 
46 
76 
Thailand 
10 
16 
22 
20 
18 
33 
19 
UK 
26 
12 
11 
14 
22 
20 
USA 
13 
12 
11 
15 
22 
17 
Singapore 
12 
11 
14 
16 
11 
18 
Malaysia 
12 
14
11 
18 
11 
Saudi Arabia 
14 
16 
17 
11 
13 
Oman 
Bahrain 
Qatar
Kuwait 
Kenya 
10 
Canada 
Sri Lanka 
Germany 
20 
Ethiopia 
Djibouti 
Japan 
~

Source: National statistics

Note: a : Year runs April-March

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