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Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora) is a tree from the Laureaceae family, native of the Amazon and Guyana.
Its fine grained, fragrant, pinkish wood is hard, compact and tough. It is used in perfumery and woodworking where several species of the Dalbergia genus are used, which also includes the rosewoods. In Brazil, the local rosewood is Dalbergia nigra. Another family, the Fabaceae, includes wood species which are commonly referred to as rosewood. This includes in particular Pterocarpus indicus, which refers to the rosewood from Burma. Thespesia populnea, of the Malvaceae family, is also called rosewood. The tree was discovered in 1925 in the Amazonian forest, were Indians had always used it in their traditional pharmacopoeia. Since then, it has been overexploited, and in the 1960s, fifty thousand tonnes were felled every year. In Madagascar this frantic overexploitation caused a scandal and its export was forbidden (see p. 81). Rosewood which is a threatened species is now protected by the International union for conservation of nature (IUCN). Synonymous in the west with refinement and luxury, it has inspired writers from Balzac to Sharyn McCrumb, (The rosewood casket, 1999).
Cultivation / production
Following a period of overexploitation, Brazil (Amazon basin) now protects rosewood, and has become the almost exclusive producer. Guyana has been replanting.
The refreshing and sweet smell of rosewood, vaguely evokes that of rose.
Extraction and yield
The productive organ is the wood, treated by steam distillation of wood chips. The essential oil yield is approximately 5%, i.e. five kilograms per one hundred kilograms of plant.
The active constituent of essential oil of rosewood is linalool, containing up to 92%.
Essential oil of rosewood is the skin's best friend. A powerful tissue regenerator, it softens, embellishes, firms up the skin and removes stretch marks, wrinkles, eczema, acne and other skin disorders. It is an excellent lymphatic tonic. Rich in linalool, it has anti-infectious, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties, and reinforces immune defences. It is also anti-spasmodic and soothing.
Chemically related species
Asian rosewood, Ho wood, Shiu wood (Cinnamomum camphora linalolifera).
Excerpts from the book « Aromatherapia – Tout sur les huiles essentielles », by Isabelle Pacchioni. Aroma Thera Editions.