The uncontrolled extraction of flora has been common practice in Brazil’s economic and industrial history. This reality is apparent in many different parts of the country, a clear example being the Amazon Forest. The same is true if we investigate the economic exploitation of the Aniba rosaeodora Ducke tree, whose common name is rosewood and which is an important source of raw material for the global perfume industry. The essential oil obtained from its wood contains a high concentration of linalool, but since the species is endangered, research is now focused on finding new vegetal sources capable of yielding an essential oil with a high proportion of this chemical while permitting management practices that conserve the world’s biodiversity.
Background The first registered observation of the rosewood tree on the American continent was in French Guiana in 1870. This date marks the beginning of its commercial exploitation by the European perfume industry, for which rosewood essential oil is very important as an ingredient in perfume products. The stability of this product against the action of alkalis meant the industry was quick to apply it in the manufacture of perfumed soap.
The scientific name of the rosewood tree is A. rosaeodora Ducke, though some scientists working in the area also accept the scientific name A. duckei Kostermans, or even A. rosaeodora var. amazonica. Independent of the scientific name adopted, the tree belongs to the Lauraceae family. The product extracted from its wood, called rosewood essential oil, is of great importance to the international perfume industry because it contains linalool (3,7-dimethyl-1,6-octadien- 3-ol), which is part of the terpene family. Rosewood essential oil from Brazil contains more than 80 percent linalool in its composition, and has a low extraction yield between 0.7 and 1.2 percent of the vegetal mass used in the process (F-1).