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May 01, 2023 22 min read

Hi

Trent here, the reason I wrote this article because just like you, I love Agarwood and I am also curious about Ky Nam. This article contains personal opinion, references from our trading partners, customers, and reseaches from journals. If you are an experenced Agarwood/ Ky Nam consumers, you may disagree with some points. Let me know and I will add into this.

 

Introduction to Agarwood and Ky Nam

Agarwood, or oud or aloeswood, is a highly valued and sought-after fragrant wood derived from the Aquilaria tree species. This aromatic wood has been used for centuries in various cultures for incense, perfume, and traditional medicine.

On the other hand, Ky Nam is a rare and unique type of Agarwood, scientifically referred to as KNW (Ky Nam Wood), which possesses distinct chemical and aromatic properties that set it apart from Agarwood.

In this blog, we will delve into the fascinating world of Agarwood and Ky Nam, exploring their differences in terms of origin, chemical composition, fragrance profile, and more. Join us as we uncover the secrets of these two remarkable natural treasures and learn why they have captivated the hearts of many for generations.

 


Historical and Geographical Background

The Origin and Formation of Agarwood and Ky Nam


Agarwood is formed when the Aquilaria tree is injured or infected by fungi or bacteria, which triggers a natural defence mechanism within the tree. As a result, the tree produces a resinous, dark, and fragrant wood known as agarwood. The process of agarwood formation can take years, and this rarity makes it so valuable.

Historically, it looked like Ky Nam are recorded from 3 places: Cambodia (known as Calambac), Southern China (known as Chi Nan, Qi Nan), Vietnam (known as Ky Nam) (JUNG, D. (2013)) Later on, hunters and Agarwood traders also found Ky Nam in Brunei, Malaysia,Indonesia, and Thailand.


While Agarwood can be formed in various Aquilaria tree species, Ky Nam may not. 

An Aquilaria Crassna tree from our plantation. In the wild, Aquilaria Crassna is one of the Aquilaria species that contains Ky Nam.

 

Wild infected Aquilaria tree- Agarwood

 

Ky Nam (also known as Chi Nan, Qi Nan, Kyara) refers to a highly exclusive and exceptional variety of aloeswood that represents only a tiny fraction of the total aloeswood population. Historically, this unique grade of aloeswood has been prized for its outstanding and extraordinary fragrance characteristics.

 

Within an Aquilaria tree, both Ky Nam and Agarwood can be present at the same time. This means that certain sections of the tree may contain Agarwood, while other, typically smaller sections, consist of the more exclusive Ky Nam.

Christoforo Borri was an Italian Jesuit missionary, mathematician, and naturalist born in the late 16th century. He is known for his work in Southeast Asia, particularly in Vietnam. Borri went to Vietnam in the early 17th century as part of his missionary work with the Society of Jesus, a religious order within the Catholic Church. The Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, focused on spreading Christianity and contributing to the fields of education and science. Borri's work in Vietnam was primarily related to spreading the Christian faith, but he also made significant observations about local culture, geography, and natural history, which he documented in letters and reports sent back to Europe

Source: Vietsu

There are many versions of Christoforo's book. Originally it was written in Italian and released in 1631, the book underwent translations into French, Latin, Dutch, German, and English during the period of 1631 to 1633. Subsequently, after a lapse of three centuries, Mr. Bonifacy retranslated it into French in 1931 and arranged for its publication in the Đô thành Hiếu cổ Huế periodical between the months of July and December the same year.

The first one is in Vietnamese

 

I have translated per below

 

 

 

Christoforo mentioned there were fragrant woods, considered the most valuable export from the Đàng Trong (Middle and South Vietnam region) to foreign countries. This famous wood was called Aquilaria and Calambac; they were of the same type but differed in their uses and the extent to which people valued them.

Lord Nguyen Mansion

Source: loigiahay



The tree species can be abundant, particularly in mountainous regions, where these trees grow tall. When wood is harvested from a young tree's trunk, it is called agarwood. This type of wood is abundant and can be easily collected as needed.


On the other hand, when harvested from the base of an ancient tree, a rare and elusive type called Ky Nam is found. It was as if nature purposely placed these trees on the highest and most challenging mountain peaks, allowing them to age undisturbed and remain safe from harm. Occasionally, a few broken branches might fall from the trunk, either due to dryness or age-related decay. When people collect these branches, they are often decayed and mouldy. Yet, they represent the highly prized and renowned Ky Nam, significantly surpassing ordinary agarwood in terms of effectiveness and fragrance. While agarwood can be sold freely by anyone, the ruler holds a monopoly on the buying and selling of Ky Nam due to its distinct aroma and properties.

In fact, at the very place where it was collected, it had a delightful and gentle aroma. Cristoforo had wanted to try a few pieces that people gave him, and he buried them deep in the ground, about five “feet” deep(not sure if it was actually “feet” or a different unit of measurement), but he could still smelt the fragrance. Ky nam collected on-site costs five ducats per liu , but at the seaport in the Đàng Trong region, where it is traded, it is more expensive, costing two hundred ducats per liu. 
Here is the image
1 ducat
Souce: austincoins

Back then, 1 liu = 500g

1 ducat is around

This ducat – a coin made almost entirely of pure gold – was minted in Venice between 1523 and 1538. In Renaissance Venice, the ducat was a gold coin weighing approximately 3.5 grams and was known for its high purity. Primarily used for trading purposes, it was essentially a form of gold bullion. Nowadays, the value of a single gold ducat hovers around 150 dollars, subject to fluctuations in the current gold price per ounce.

That was considered very expensive back then.

In the English version book of "Views of Seventeenth-century Vietnam Christoforo Borri on Cochinchina & Samuel Baron on Tonkin"

 

The English version has a slight different content

Please note
Aquila means Aquilaria, the tree that produce Agarwood and Ky Nam
Eagle-wood is another name of Agarwood
Calamba: In Cambodian, it means Ky Nam or Kyara 

 

Now the price of genuine Vietnamese Ky nam is around 500,000 USD per kg

If a large piece is found that can be made into a pillow for the head or even a long pillow, the Japanese will buy it for three hundred to four hundred ducats per liu. This is because it has been proven that for health reasons, it is better to use a firmer pillow instead of one made from feathers, which are both unhygienic and disease-prone. People typically use a wooden plank as a pillow; depending on their means, they wish to obtain the most valuable wood available. Agarwood is less valued and used for making religious offerings, while ky nam is highly prized and sought after for its unique properties and fragrance.

Even now, some of the Japanese is still using Wooden Pillow

 

Scented wooden pillow equipped with Mica Plate and Agarwood chip

Source: Screenshot from NHK World video

 3. Regional Importance and Cultural Significance of Agarwood and Ky Nam

Agarwood and Ky Nam have a long history of regional importance and cultural significance, particularly in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Both have been highly valued for their unique fragrances, and their use in religious, cultural, and medicinal practices has been documented for centuries.

Agarwood, also known as oud or aloeswood, is a highly sought-after material in many countries, including India, China, Japan, and the Middle East. Its unique and complex scent has made it a prized ingredient in high-end perfumes and traditional incense. In Islamic culture, agarwood has been used to make prayer beads, while in Buddhist traditions, it is often used as incense during religious ceremonies. The rarity and high value of agarwood also make it a symbol of wealth and luxury.

Ky Nam agarwood holds a special place in Vietnamese culture. It is primarily found in the Ky Nam region and is considered one of the most precious agarwood forms. Its unique fragrance and chemical composition set it apart from ordinary agarwood, making it highly valued for its use in traditional medicine, as incense, and in the production of high-quality perfumes.

The cultural significance of Ky Nam agarwood is not limited to Vietnam. Its unique aroma and the complex process required to produce it have garnered attention and appreciation from collectors and connoisseurs worldwide. As a result, Ky Nam agarwood has become a symbol of prestige and luxury in the global market.

In addition to their cultural and historical significance, agarwood and Ky Nam play an essential role in the local economies of their respective regions. The high demand for these rare and valuable materials has led to the development of agarwood plantations and sustainable harvesting practices to conserve these precious resources.


Agarwood and Ky Nam in Nine Dynastic Urn - Hue Imperial City

Source: thuathienhue.gov.au


The Nine Dynastic Urns, also known as Cửu Đỉnh, are an astonishing masterpiece of Vietnamese history and art. These magnificent urns were cast between 1835 and 1837, and their completion was marked by a grand ceremony that was overseen by King Minh Mạng himself.

The Nine Dynastic Urns were not just a remarkable feat of craftsmanship, they were also imbued with powerful symbolism. They were created to represent the enduring legacy of the Nguyen Dynasty and the wealth and beauty of Vietnam. This was reflected in every aspect of their design, from the intricate relief patterns that adorned each urn to the names of the kings they were named after.

Each urn was named after a posthumous title of a Nguyen Dynasty king and was placed in the Thế Miếu shrine. The Cao Đỉnh, the highest urn, was named after King Gia Long's temple title and placed in the centre. On the left and right were the Kindness Đỉnh and Chương Đỉnh, named after King Minh Mạng and King Thiệu Trị, respectively. The Anh Đỉnh and Nghị Đỉnh were named after Kings Tự Đức and Kiến Phúc, while the Thuần Đỉnh and Tuyên Đỉnh were named after Kings Đồng Khánh and Khải Định. Sadly, the Dũ Đỉnh and Huyền Đỉnh, which were meant to symbolise future kings, were never created due to the August Revolution, which brought an end to the Nguyen Dynasty.

The Nine Dynastic Urns are an incredible sight to behold. They are arranged straight under the Hiển Lâm Các porch, each urn resting on a massive stone slab. The tallest urn is an impressive 2.5 meters high, and the shortest is still an impressive 2.3 meters tall. The intricate relief patterns on each urn depict some of Vietnam's most famous landscapes and products, from mountains and rivers to flowers and fruits.

The Nine Dynastic Urns are a testament to the extraordinary skill of the craftsmen who created them. The copper casting is exquisite, and each urn is unique in its own way. Some of the handles on the urns' mouths are cast square, while others are cast round or twisted like a rope. The legs of the urns also vary, with some having curved legs like kneeling legs, while others have straight cast legs.

The Nine Dynastic Urns are not just a remarkable work of art, they are also an important cultural heritage of Vietnam. They symbolise the enduring strength and beauty of Vietnam's past and a reminder of its rich history. Anyone who has the chance to see these incredible urns in person is sure to be awestruck by their beauty and historical significance.


If you want to learn more about the Nine Urns, click here

In this article, Although there are many carvings on the Urns, I will only mention two related fragrant woods: Agarwood and Ky Nam

Prepare to be transported back in time to the days of the Champa empire, where the quest for two rare fragrant kinds of wood was as dangerous as it was lucrative. The Truong Son Mountain Range, also known as the Annamite Range, was home to plenty of Aquilaria trees, which contain two precious fragrant wood: Ky Nam and Agarwood.

The importance of these woods was not lost on the Champa, who hunted them down in the remote and dangerous terrain of the mountain range. They collected these precious woods as tributes to the king and royal families.

Fast forward to the 19th century, and we find ourselves looking at the Nine Urns, where the story of these woods continues. 


The primary urn, Cao Dinh

The High Urn


In the primary urn, Cao Dinh, also known as the High Urn, weighing in at an impressive 2,603 kg, you will find a stunning image of Agarwood carved into the wood. This urn was placed in the centre of the Nine Urns to honour the founding kings.

Agarwood: Aquilaria tree carving on the High Urn

Agarwood, or "trầm" in Vietnamese, is a rare and valuable fragrant wood. It sinks in water, and its aromatic oil is used for medicine in both Eastern and Western practices.

Found in Vietnam's mountainous regions, its resin becomes fragrant as the tree ages.

Harvesting Wild Agarwood is dangerous, involving risks in deep forests and mountains. Harvesters follow some old rituals and offer sacrifices before cutting the tree. 

In 1830, the royal court established an Agarwood exploitation area in Phu Yen and required nearby residents to participate in the harvesting process. They selected 30 quota-based workers, and each person was required to contribute 1 kilogram of Agarwood annually to the royal court as tax.


But the story doesn't end there. The second urn, Nhân Đỉnh , or the Kindness Urn, is where you'll find an equally captivating image of Ky Nam, another type of fragrant wood from the Aquilaria trees in Vietnam. However, despite coming from the same trees, these two types of wood are quite different.

The Kindness Urn.

The use of these fragrant woods dates back to between 1558 and the 1800s. Their rarity and value made the quest for them a risky and dangerous endeavour. From the Champa hunters to the Nguyen Dynasty kings, the story of Ky Nam and Agarwood is steeped in history and legend. And now, as we look upon these nine magnificent urns, we are reminded of the fragrant wood that once played an essential role in the lives of those who came before us.

 According to past legend, and experience trade partners, Kỳ Nam is a type of aromatic wood that contains a large amount of oil, with a black and veined appearance. It is chewy and bitter when chewed, and when burned, it produces an oddly fragrant oil. The essence is also found in the Agarwood tree, meaning that within an Agarwood tree, there are often large amounts of Agarwood and possibly some Kỳ Nam. Ky Nam is a subset of Agarwood in an Aquilaria tree. People in the past compared Agarwood and Kỳ Nam to glass and jade.

Ky Nam tree carving on the Kindness Urn


It is believed that Agarwood turns into Kỳ Nam due to bird droppings on branches, causing the tree to get sick.

In these infected areas, the tree body creates resin which accumulates more and more to combat the disease, thus giving rise to Kỳ Nam. Some also say that the formation of Kỳ Nam is due to a type of fungus that causes the transformation of the wood. It becomes lighter, changing its colour and gathering more resin. The resin accumulation can occur beneath the tree trunk, near the tree's base, on the branches, or sometimes even reaching the roots. 


Hunters would injure the tree by axing into the Aquilaria tree. Sometimes, large animals such as elephants, leopards, tigers, deer, and wild buffalos wound the trees. In these injured areas, the oil accumulates and gradually changes the nature of the wood, turning it into Agarwood, and some would transform into Kỳ Nam. Kỳ Nam could form the tree's exterior, partly sticking to the bark, called Kỳ Bì (Ky Nam Bark) . When the oil accumulates at the base or large roots of the tree, it becomes Agarwood. If this Agarwood has tiny holes and an uneven surface, it is called "Agarwood ant-eye." 

If the oil accumulates in a few other places, creating a fragrant wood with some distinct spots, it is called "Tốc." When the oil accumulation reaches a sufficient level, the Aquilaria tree grows old, withers, and dies, leaving behind only valuable pieces of Agarwood and Kỳ Nam.

In 1830, the royal court established an Agarwood plantation in Phú Yên province and required local residents to contribute. Each year, households pay a tax of 1 kilogram of Agarwood. If they obtained Kỳ Nam, they had to submit it all to the authorities, who would count it towards their tax. Anyone who concealed or reduced their Kỳ Nam contribution would be guilty.


In the 17th year of Minh Mạng's reign, after casting the Nine Urns, the king ordered an image of the Agarwood tree used for Kỳ Nam oil to be carved onto the Kindness Urn.

 

How Agarwood and Ky Nam are formed in Aquilaria trees

Agarwood and Ky Nam are both rare and valuable forms of aromatic, resinous wood produced in the Aquilaria trees, which belong to the Thymelaeaceae family. The formation of Agarwood and Ky Nam occurs through a natural defence mechanism in response to physical injuries, insect infestation, or microbial attacks on the trees. When the tree is injured or infected, it produces a dark aromatic resin called oleoresin to protect itself and heal the wounds. Over time, the oleoresin accumulates and saturates the surrounding wood, creating the fragrant and highly valued Agarwood and Ky Nam.

Agarwood forms in different grades and qualities, depending on the amount and distribution of oleoresin within the wood. Ky Nam, on the other hand, is a specific type of Agarwood with distinct phytochemical characteristics that set it apart from ordinary Agarwood. The unique properties of Ky Nam are attributed to the specific composition of its resin, which contains a high concentration of certain aromatic compounds.

Ky Nam when enlarged will have a very wet look because of rich oil content.

It is very soft and fragrant. You can smell Ky Nam at room temperature. When you touch it, and you smell your finger. You will notice your finger has a pleasant woody creamy smell too. The fiber content of the wood is almost transformed

 

Influence of genetic information and endophytic fungi

The genetic information of the original plant germplasm and endophytic fungi play a crucial role in determining the unique phytochemical characteristics of Ky Nam. The Ky Nam germplasm of Aquilaria species is considered to be the possible origin of Ky Nam, as it can produce this unique type of Agarwood in a short period of time without the need for a specific environment, location, or method.

Endophytic fungi are microorganisms that live within plant tissues without causing harm to the host. In the case of Aquilaria trees, these fungi can influence the formation of Agarwood and Ky Nam by producing specific enzymes that trigger the production of oleoresin in the tree. The interaction between the tree's genetic information and the endophytic fungi can contribute to the unique phytochemical characteristics of Ky Nam.

However, the exact biosynthesis mechanism of these chemical characteristics remains unclear. It requires further research to fully understand the role of genetic information and endophytic fungi in the formation and production of Agarwood and Ky Nam.



In connection to the role of endophytic fungi in forming Agarwood and Ky Nam, it is essential to understand the broader perspective of mutualistic associations in nature, such as those involving ants and fungi. 


Ants are eusocial insects that live in colonies with a complex social structure and division of labour. They can be found worldwide, with more than 15,000 species known, many of which reside in tropical and subtropical rainforests.


In these ecosystems, ants have established mutualistic relationships with fungi, demonstrating their ability to practice 'agriculture' by cultivating fungi as their primary food source. Ants cut and process fresh vegetation, using the material as a nutritional substrate for their fungal cultivars. In turn, the fungus is nourished, protected against harmful microorganisms, and dispersed by the ants. The mutualistic relationship is such that neither the fungus nor the ants can survive without each other.

This mutualistic relationship between ants and fungi has direct relevance to the formation of Agarwood and Ky Nam, as endophytic fungi play a significant role in producing these valuable resinous woods. The interaction between Aquilaria trees and endophytic fungi triggers the tree's natural defence mechanisms, leading to the production of oleoresin and the subsequent formation of Agarwood and Ky Nam.

Understanding the broader context of ant-fungus mutualism can provide valuable insights into the role of endophytic fungi in the formation and production of Agarwood and Ky Nam. Further research in this area can help elucidate the specific mechanisms through which endophytic fungi influence the unique phytochemical characteristics of these highly prized aromatic woods.



The Rich Aromatic Profile of Ky Nam Agarwood

Ky Nam (also known as Qi Nan or Chi Nan) has different parts that give it its unique smell and benefits.

There are different groups of compounds in Ky Nam that work together to create a creamy milky smell. These compounds are named as FTPECs, EPECs, and THPECs. Each group has its own unique part that makes the smell and power of Ky Nam unique.

So, imagine Ky Nam like a fine perfume of different layers. Each layer has a unique aroma and colour, and when they are mixed together, they create a wonderful and unique perfume that smells fantastic.

Both agarwood and Ky Nam agarwood contains various compounds, including 2-(2-phenyl ethyl)chromones, sesquiterpenes, and low-molecular-weight aromatic compounds. However, these compounds' composition and concentration differ significantly, contributing to their distinct fragrances.

Ky Nam agarwood is characterised by extremely high contents of 2-(2-phenyl ethyl)chromone and 2-[2-(4′-methoxybenzene)ethyl]chromone. It mainly contains FTPECs (Flindersia-type PECs), while the contents of DEPECs (dihydroagarofuran-type PECs), EPECs (eudesmane-type PECs), and THPECs (tetrahydro chromone-type PECs) are extremely low.

When used as incense, the smoke from Ky Nam agarwood releases a unique fragrance, thanks to the guaiane and eudesmane derivatives found in higher concentrations in Ky Nam compared to ordinary agarwood. Some of the compounds that contribute to the aroma of Ky Nam incense smoke include 4-phenyl-2-butanone, benzaldehyde, 4-methoxy benzaldehyde, and 2-hydroxybenzaldehyde. Each of these compounds has its own distinct smell, which collectively creates the unique fragrance of Ky Nam agarwood (Yang L et al 2021). To summarise, Yuan (et al 2020) has the below


  1. Ky Nam has exceptionally high contents of 2-(2-phenyl ethyl)chromone and 2-[2-(4′-methoxybenzene)ethyl]chromone compared to Agarwood.
  2. Ky Nam mainly contains FTPECs (a type of 2-(2-phenyl ethyl)chromones), while the contents of DEPECs, EPECs, and THPECs are extremely low.
  3. When burning, Ky Nam has higher concentrations of 4-phenyl-2-butanone, benzaldehyde, 4-methoxy benzaldehyde, and 2-hydroxybenzaldehyde compared to standard Agarwood.
  4. Ky Nam has higher contents of guaiane and eudesmane derivatives, which contribute to its unique fragrance.


The Therapeutic Potential of Ky Nam Agarwood

Agarwood has long been used in traditional medicine for its therapeutic properties, particularly for its calming and sedative effects. Modern studies have also shown that agarwood exhibits anti-depression effects. Ky Nam agarwood, with its distinct chemical composition, may offer unique therapeutic benefits as well.

Research has shown that Ky Nam incense smoke can affect gene expression in mouse brains, potentially influencing various emotion-related pathways. This suggests that inhaling Ky Nam incense smoke may have potential therapeutic applications for conditions such as anxiety, depression, and stress. However, more research is needed to fully understand and confirm the potential therapeutic benefits of Ky Nam agarwood and its unique compounds.


Before discussing this further, I would like to explain the role of AMPK briefly.


AMPK Adenosine 5'-monophosphate (AMP)-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a vital cellular energy sensor that helps maintain the body's energy balance. It has several health benefits, such as improving insulin sensitivity, reducing inflammation, and promoting fat metabolism.


Here is an easy explanation that I summarise from Herzig, S., & Shaw, R. J. (2018),


Scientists want to study an extraordinary thing called AMPK in our body because it helps keep us healthy. It is like a machine inside our cells that can do many good things for us.

  1. AMPK helps our muscles use sugar better, which gives us energy and keeps us from getting sick. Activating AMPK increases glucose uptake in muscles, which helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels and may benefit people with diabetes or insulin resistance.
  2. It also helps break down fat, which can help us stay at a healthy weight.AMPK activation promotes the breakdown of fats for energy, which can help with weight management and the prevention of obesity-related diseases
  3. AMPK fights against things that can hurt our body, like too much swelling or soreness.AMPK has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, which is important for overall health and may help protect against chronic diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
  4. It helps make more tiny powerhouses inside our cells called mitochondria. These give our body energy and keep us strong as we grow older. Activation of AMPK leads to the production of new mitochondria, the energy factories of the cell. This can improve overall cellular energy production and help counteract the age-related decline in mitochondrial function.

As mentioned above, Ky Nam has a higher amount of FTPECS(Yuan (et al 2020))

FTPECs, or Flindersia-type 2-(2-phenyl ethyl) chromones, are a special group of chemical compounds found in certain types of agarwood and also in cultivated Ky Nam or Grafted Kynam Agarwood (Chen, F., Huang, Y., Luo, L., Wang, Q., Huang, N., Zhang, Z., & Li, Z. (2023))

Although scientists are still investigating the precise advantages of FTPECs, some research suggests they could have positive effects on our health.

These possible benefits might come from the way FTPECs interact with different processes in our bodies. One study found that they can help activate the AMPK pathway, which is a vital enzyme for keeping our cells healthy and balancing their energy levels. This activation can lead to health improvements like better sugar uptake, burning more fat, and lessening inflammation.

Furthermore, FTPECs may also have other healing properties, like being antioxidants, reducing inflammation, and protecting our nerves. However, more research is needed to completely understand how these potential benefits work and how they could be used in medical treatments.


The rareness of Ky Nam

In the wild, Ky Nam is extremely rare and difficult to obtain. This special type of agarwood is found only in certain parts of the Aquilaria tree, often at the base of old trees that grow high up on challenging mountain peaks. These harsh and remote conditions make it difficult for people to access these trees, and as a result, Ky Nam remains a scarce and valuable resource.

Unfortunately, searching for Ky Nam in the wild has led to significant environmental damage and unsustainable harvesting practices. As hunters search for this rare agarwood, they may end up cutting down or damaging many trees in their pursuit, including trees that don't actually contain Ky Nam. This can have a devastating impact on the forests and the overall health of the Aquilaria tree population.


Currently, in Vietnam, if someone is selling Ky Nam, it is probably the old stock, and the price could be as high as 500,000 USD per kg. Back in 2000, it was only around 5000 USD per kg (market price).

In short, there is no new supply of Wild Ky Nam, at least in Vietnam.

Here is a clear evidence:

If you love Japanese incense, then you will know Ky Nam is also known as Kyara in Japanese.

There are some large Japanese incense manufacturers who bought Wild Ky Nam to make their signature high-end incense. These high-end incense ranges are no longer available due to no supply. One example is the Shoyeido Translucent which was discontinued many years ago.


To protect the environment and ensure the future availability of Ky Nam, it's crucial to adopt sustainable harvesting techniques and promote conservation efforts. Cultivating Ky Nam through methods like grafting is one way to help meet the demand for this precious agarwood without causing further harm to the ecosystem.

 

Introduce cultivated Ky Nam.

The elusive Ky Nam is believed to stem from a remarkable germplasm, specifically the Ky Nam germplasm of the Aquilaria species. What sets this germplasm apart is its ability to produce the sought-after Ky Nam rapidly without relying on any specialised environmental conditions, geographical locations, or techniques.

The extraordinary phytochemical traits of Ky Nam could be attributed to the genetic information embedded within the original plant germplasm or even endophytic fungi. Yet, the precise biosynthesis mechanism responsible for the distinct differences between Ky Nam and ordinary agarwood remains a mystery, awaiting further research to unravel its secrets.


Here is the good news, agriculturists have successfully grafted Ky Nam from its Mother tree.


In 2019, Researchers Yuan Chen, Tingting Yan, Yonggang Zhang, Qian Wang, Gaiyun Li looked at the shape, alcohol extract content, and chemicals released when Cultivated Ky Nam is burned. They compared Cultivated Ky Nam (CK) to Wild Kynam (WK) and another type of agarwood called cultivated common agarwood (CCA).

They used special machines to study the smoke produced by burning incense. They found that most of the incense burned at temperatures below 200°C (392°F), and the weight loss rate of CGK was in between WK and CCA. They also found that certain chemicals called sesquiterpenes were the main reason for the unique and lovely pleasant smell of agarwood incense.

However, they discovered that there were some differences in the chemicals released by Cultivated Ky Nam and Wild Ky Nam, especially at lower temperatures. This means that it is not easy to replace Wild Ky Nam with Cultivated Ky Nam. These findings can help us better understand and use the newly cultivated grafting Kynam agarwood and develop the agarwood incense industry.

How did they do it?

Imagine you have a piece of Agarwood and Ky Nam, and you want to find out what they're made of and how they change when heated. We have a particular machine called TG-FTIR that can help us do that!

First, we put the Agarwood and Ky Nam samples in a tiny oven that gets hotter and hotter. As they heat up, we measure how much their weight changes. This helps us understand how these precious woods react to heat.

Next, as the samples heat up, they give off some gases (similar to how steam rises from a hot cup of tea). We want to know what's in those gases, so we use another machine that shines a special kind of light through them. This light helps us figure out what chemicals are in the gases.

Finally, we connect these two machines to work together. So, while the Agarwood and Ky Nam samples are heating in the tiny oven, the gases they give off are being analyzed by the special light machine.

By doing this, these scientists compared the quality of Cultivated Ky Nam, Wild Ky Nam , and Cultivated Agarwood. Then they discovered the critical differences between Cultivated Ky Nam and Cultivated Agarwood are as follows:

  1. Formation time and ethanol extract content: Cultivated Ky Nam has a shorter resin formation time and higher ethanol extract content than Cultivated Agarwood
  2. Mass-loss rate: The mass-loss rate of Cultivated Ky Nam  is lower than Wild Ky Nam and higher than Cultivated Agarwood. This indicates that the scent of Cultivated Ky Nam is weaker than Wild Ky Nam but stronger than Cultivated Agarwood.
  3. Chemical compounds at different temperatures: At lower temperatures, the number of peaks (chemical compounds) of Cultivated Ky Nam is lower than Wild Ky Nam but higher than Cultivated Agarwood. As the temperature increases, Cultivated Ky Nam releases compounds more similar to those WK releases.
  4. Predominant compounds: There is a significant difference in the predominant compounds between Cultivated and Wild Ky Nam, especially at lower temperatures. This suggests that it is difficult to substitute the incense compounds and feeling of Wild Ky Nam with Cultivated Ky Nam.

 

Source: selftaken, Cultivated Ky Nam

 

In summary, the study shows that Cultivated Ky Nam is less aromatic than Wild Ky Nam but more than cultivated Agarwood. Some Cultivated Ky Nam compounds are more similar to Wild Ky Nam when temperature increases. Although Cultivated Ky Nam cannot replace Wild Ky Nam completely, the results of this study are valuable for understanding new Ky Nam agarwood types and advancing the agarwood industry. Moreover, many Agarwood lovers have tried this cultivated Ky Nam, and they got what they are looking for: the milky, creamy notes of Ky Nam at a fraction of the Wild Ky Nam price.

Want to check out our cultivated Ky Nam-Kygarwood? If you are curious about Ky Nam smell, I sugested you take a look at the below. Although these sustainable cultivated Ky nam cannot replace the wild version, you can be sure that the renown milky creamy notes that people talk about will appear the moment you smell them at room temperature.

  1. White Kygarwood
  2. Green Kygarwood
  3. Kygarwood mala

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