Wallapatta is a medium-sized tall plant. Its scientific name is Gyrinops walla. The bark of this plant grows up to 15 m in height and is densely covered with fibres. Due to this feature, the bark of this plant was used by the villagers in the past to tie various things. Although today the plant has a high economic value, it was then used as a fuel and as a packaging material.
|Botanical Name||Gyrinops walla|
There are eight species of Gyrinops found worldwide, of which only Gyrinops ledermanii and G. versteegii were used for resin production in the past. However, after 2012, a team of Sri Lankan scientists discovered that Wallapatta was the first to produce agarwood, following the smuggling of several naturally occurring resins. Another important finding was that the resin produced by Wallapatta was very close to the resin produced by Aquilaria, a very rare species of agarwood. The resin obtained from these plant parts, called agarwood, is used to make expensive non-alcoholic perfumes, and its value is extremely high.
This resin is naturally produced when certain parts of the plant are damaged. The racketeers have no choice but to cut down an unproductive resin tree and wipe it off. Although agarwood resin is produced naturally, it does not spread evenly or rapidly throughout the plant trunk. But there is also the potential for higher and more successful agarwood resin yields by stimulating this process through synthetic methods.
Experts now speculate that Wallapatta may be on the verge of extinction, just as Aquilaria is on the verge of extinction due to deforestation and deforestation in the face of increasing international demand for natural resin production.
Morphological features of the Wallapatta plant
The average height of the plant is about 5-7 m. Can be seen in outdoor areas and undergrowth in forests. The main feature of the plant is the shedding of the bark along with the leaves. It is a deciduous plant with a parallel leaf configuration. The distance between two adjacent leaves is about 2.5 cm. The leaf blade is about 10-12 cm long and 5 cm wide. Petiole acute, petiole slightly broad. The young leaves are yellow and bent downwards. When viewed under a microscope, a thin bulge can be seen on both sides of the midrib of the young leaves and at the edge of the leaf. Mature leaves are dark green and shiny. Leaf circle mm. It is about 6 inches long and fits snugly into the trunk. The leaf margin is slightly wrinkled and smooth without cracks. Midrib clearly visible but veins very close and thin across the leaf blade.
The flowering period of the plant is from April to July and immature fruits can be seen during this time. The flowers are in an inflorescence. They are white to light yellow in colour. Inflorescence axillary racemes, 6-flowered. The inflorescence has about five petals. Flowering and fruiting can be seen at the same time. Flowering occurs at an early age and bears fruit even on 2-3 feet tall trees. One small tree can bear 20-30 fruits.
Use of Wallapatta Plant
The recent increase in demand for the Wallapatta plant is due to the fragrances and drugs produced by the resinous chemical agarwood extracted from the plant. The resinous chemical is sold at a very high price in the world market.
This chemical substance, known as charcoal in Sanskrit, is known in different ways in different cultures and languages. This is good proof that people have not had any contact with this plant since ancient times. Coal is also mentioned in the Sanskrit Vedic texts, which are among the oldest in the world. The inability to find any other naturally occurring fragrance similar to this fragrance to date has led to a huge demand for this agarwood.
According to Chinese emigrants in the 3rd century AD, modern-day Vietnamese islanders extracted the chemical. The medicinal properties of these chemicals are also mentioned in the Ayurvedic textbook Sushra Sanhita and in the reports of the ancient Muslims. The Islamic explorer Ibn Battuta states that the Arabs used this expensive perfume in the 13th century.
According to the book A Thousand and One Night, this fragrant substance is used to perfume one’s home during special occasions. It is further highlighted as a product that reflects the living standards of the upper classes of society who have adapted to a luxurious lifestyle. It is also said that the perfume extracted from this plant is used to perfume the clothes of the Holy Prophet.
This chemical resin in India is used to cure asthma, stomach ache, diarrhoea, gout, rheumatism, paralysis, sexual dysfunction, skin diseases. Small pieces of this plant are soaked in oil and used to perfume the body. The wood of this plant is also used to make various types of carvings.
Today, countries such as Taiwan, Cambodia, and Vietnam are among the largest producers of high-quality resinous chemicals. There is a high demand for this chemical produced by those countries in Japan, Korea, China and European and Middle Eastern countries. Agarwood is especially in demand in Arab countries because it is an alcohol-free product.
Research on Wallapatta plant
Artificial insemination of naturally occurring fungi on the trunk of this plant can bring immediate economic benefits to the tree. Other countries have conducted research on the production of charcoal by producing this fungus separately in laboratories and injecting it into plants belonging to the genus Aquilaria. The University of Minnesota in the United States has done a great deal of research in this regard. Although many countries in the world have benefited immensely from this artificial fungal infection, research is still being done in our country. The amount of research done on obtaining adequate planting material (seeds, tissue culture), planting medium, extraction methods is very limited.