Cropwatch 5.

Threatened & Vulnerable Species: A List of Essential Oils Recommended by Cropwatch Not to Be Used in Aromatherapy.

Copyright Ó Tony Burfield & Chrissie Wildwood Sept 2004.


Name of commodity

Botanical Name

Geographic Origin

Status of plant

 Amyris oil

syn.W.I sandalwood

Amyris balsamifera L.

Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico.


TB (2004); Joulain (1999).

Agarwood oil, resinoids, CO2 extracts etc.

syn. Aloeswood, Malacca eaglewood.

Aquilaria & Gonystylus spp.

India, Malaysia, Indonesia

A. beccariana

van Tieghem.

Vulnerable: IUCN

A. crassna Pierre ex H. Lecomte

Critically Endangered: IUCN

A. cumingiana (Decne) Ridley

Vulnerable: IUCN

A. hirta Ridley

Vulnerable: IUCN

A. malaccensis Lam.

[some say syn. A. agallocha Roxb.]

Listed under CITES (1995) Appendix II

Vulnerable: IUCN

A.    microcarpa Baill.

Vulnerable: IUCN

A. rostrata Ridley

Rare; only in Malaya

A. sinensis (Lour.) Gilg.

Vulnerable: IUCN

Anise Scented Myrtle Oil

Backhousia anisata Vickery

(now renamed

Anetholia anisata)

Bellinger and Nambucca valleys of  NE part of NSW, Australia.


due to commercial exploitation: TB (2004).


Buchu oils

Agathosma betulina (Bergius) Bartl. & Wendl.

& A. crenulata (L.) Pillans

S. Africa


TB (2003)

Calamus oil, India

Acorus calamus L.


Becoming rare:

CIMAP (1997)

Cedarwood Oil Atlas

Cedrus atlantica (Endl.) Manetti ex Carr

Morocco, Algeria


(TB 2003)

Under investigation for possible Red List entry:


Cedarwood oil, Kenyan

Juniperus procera Hochst. Ex Endl.


Endangered: FAO (1986)

Lower risk/near threatened: IUCN

Cinnamomum oils

Certain spp. of Cinnamomum genus.

China; India


Some Chinese oil-bearing spp: Zhu et al. (1994)

Cinnamomum tamala: “Nearly threatened”: CIMAP (1997)

Costus oil, concr., abs.

Saussurea lappa

CB Clarke

Kashmir, Sikkim, SW China


CITES (2003) Appendix I

Ginger-lily oil, abs.

Hedychium coronarium Koenig

India, Hawaii

Endangered in some areas: CIMAP (1977)

Indian Wintergreen oil

Gaultheria fragrantissma Wall.


Considerable depletion in wild

esp. S. India CIMAP (1977)

Havozo bark oil

Ravensara anisata (pseudonym for R. aromatica) Danguy et Choux



TB (2004)



See footnote 2

Hinoki Wood Oil

Chamaecyparis obtusa (Siebold & Zucc.) Endl



Japanese Govt. from 1982.

Lower risk/near threatened: IUCN

Inula racemosa oil

Inula racemosa Hook f.

Alpine W. Himalaya


Red Data Book of Indian Plants (1988)

Under threat in Himal Pradesh: Chauhan (1988)

Jurinia (Dhoop) roots, rhizomes

Jurinea dolomiaea Boiss.

India, Nepal, Pakistan

Depletion in most areas: CIMAP (1977)

Kapur Kachari oil

Hedychium spicatum Smith

India: Himalaya


in Uttar Pradesh & Himachal Pradesh: CIMAP (1997)

Mountain tobacco oil, extracts

Arnica montana L.

Spain, Romania

Protected: Annex D of CoE Regulations (EC) No. 338/97 &

Annex V of the EU Habitats, Fauna and Flora Directive (EUROPA 2003)

Orchid Oils

except Vanilla spp.

Various spp. of Orchidaceae

Widely distributed


protected CITES (2003)

& EC reguln. 338/97 (annex B)

Parmelia (Lichen) oil, absolutes, extract

Parmelia nepalensis Tayl. Hook.


Export of plant banned: Nelapese Govt 1993. Does not apply to processed material.6

Rosewood Oil

aka Bois de Rose oil

Aniba rosaedora var. amazonica Ducke & other A. spp.





IBAMA, Brazil (1992)

Rosewood Oil

Ocotea caudata (Nees) Mez. & other Ocotea oils


Many Ocotea oils endangered:

Cropwatch (2004)

Santalum acuminatum “Sweet Quandong”

Santalum acuminatum (R. Br.) A. DC

Temperate & W. Australia


in S. Australia (law not respected: Holiday 1989)4

(not used for oil production)

Sandalwood Oil East African

Osyris lanceolata Hochst. & Steud.



Cropwatch 3 (2004)

Sandalwood Oil E.I.

Santalum album L.




Oil Export controlled by Madras & Mysore Govts.



Santalum haleakala Hbd.




Sandalwood oil Hawaii

Santalum fernandezianum F. Phillipi




Santalum insulare

Santalum insulare  Bertero ex A. DC.

French Polynesia

Insufficient data:

Cropwatch (2004)

Santalum lanceolatum oil “Plum bush”

Santalum lanceolatum R. Br.

(Hewson & George 1984)

Australia Queensland, NSW, Victoria, W. Australia


in Victoria &

a threatened taxon under Schedule 2 of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (1988)

Santalum murrayanum

“Bitter Quandong”

Santalum murrayanum (T.L. Mitchell) C.A. Gardner

Temperate & W. Australia


in S. Australia (law not respected: Holiday 1989)4

(little if any oil produced).

Sandalwood oil New Caledonia

Santalum austrocaledonicum Vieill. var. austrocaledonicum

New Caledonia


Cropwatch (2004)

Sandalwood Papua New Guinea

Santalum macgregorii Fv.Mueller

Papua New Guinea



Sandalwood oil Australian

Santalum spicatum (R. Br.) A. DC

Northern S. Australia & S.W. Australia

Protected in some reserves.
Non-sustainably harvested; plantations not yet productive; no impact

Sandalwood Oil Vanuatu

Santalum austro-

caledonicum Vieill.

Vanuatu (Pacific)

Threatened: FAO

Insufficient data: Cropwatch (2004)

Santalum yasi

Santalum yasi Seem.

Tonga, Fiji

Depleted, sites often inaccessible:

Cropwatch (2004)

Sassafras Oil Brazilian

Ocotea pretiosa (Nees) Mez.




Siam Wood Oil

Fokienia hodginsii (Dunn) A. Henry & H. Thomas


Lower risk/Near threatened: IUCN

Spikenard oil aka Jatamansi oil

Nardostachys grandiflora DC; some say aka

N. jatamansi DC

Nepal1, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh


CITES (2000) Appendix II

Depleted: CIMAP (1997)

Plant extraction from wild banned in Uttar Pradesh.3 Oil export figures under reported to avoid tax7

Footnotes to table.

1An initiative for Nardostachys spp. cultivation between NGO & Nepalese farmers is in place but carries no environmental impact studies (Cropwatch: unpublished information)

2Rosoanaivo (1997) Med Plant Conservn 4(9) estimates 100 tons stem bark per year are destructively harvested.

3 Plant extraction from wild banned in Uttah Pradesh;

4Holiday (1989) Australian Trees Hamlyn Australia.

5 Zhu L., Ding D. & Lawrence B.M. (1994) “The Cinnamomum species in China: Resources for the present and future” Perf & Flav. 19, July/Aug 1994, 17-22.

6 Approx 1000 tons/annum lichen processed for aroma & incense industry (Cropwatch: unpublished information).

7. Amatya G. & Sthapit VM (1994) “A note on Nardostachys jatamansiJ Herbs, Spices & Med Plants 2(2) 39-47.



Species Sold into Aromatherapy & Perfumery which are Threatened from Animal Grazing (preventing flowering). Cessation of Trading (not recommended) would promote Hardship to Gatherers.

Frankincense oil, gum-oleoresin, resinoid etc.

Boswellia carteri Birdw.

[some say syn. B. sacra]

Somalia, Oman, Yemen

Low risk/Near threatened: (B. sacra) IUCN (1997)
Hardship information:



Essential Oil-Bearing Species sold into Aromatherapy Threatened/Vulnerable in Specific Locations.

Name of commodity

Botanical Name

Geographic Origin

Status of plant

Artemisia vulgaris oil

Artemisia vulgaris L.

E. Europe.


(Cropwatch 2004)

Thyme oil Spain

Thymus. zygis Loefl. ex L. subsp. gracilis Boiss R. Morales


Threatened; no monitoring by  authorities (Lange 1998)1

White sage oil

Salvia apiana Jepson

S. California USA


(Cropwatch 2004)

Listed as “To Watch”

United Plant Savers

Footnote to table

1 Lange (1988) Europe’s Medicinal and Aromatic Plants: their use, trade and conservation. Traffic Europe 1998.




1.       The lists are not exhaustive, and do not generally include low risk/near threatened species sold into aromatherapy such as Cupressus sempervirens (Cedarleaf oil) and Callitris columellaris (Australian Cypress pine oil).

2.       Species which are commonly used as incense ingredients are coloured blue-green.

3.       Agarwood qualities are placed in an enlarged section because these products are commonly sold into aromatherapy (as incense products) & fine fragrances (as essential oil). CO2 extracted plantation-grown artificially infected agarwood products etc. are available on the oils market, but have yet to gain widespread acceptance.

4.       Rosewood species have an expanded pink coloured section because other ‘rosewood oils’ - e.g. from Ocotea spp. - are sold into aromatherapy. Batches of plantation-grown rosewood leaf oil seen by the author (TB) have been of poor odour quality compared with the normal oil.

5.       Sandalwood species from different origins have an expanded section (in yellow) because there is confusion about their exact status in the minds of many aromatherapists. Pressure on Indian government officials to ignore sandalwood smuggling by gangland characters has even involved kidnap and threats of beheading (see

6.     Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP).   From: Indian Medicinal Plants Facing Genetic Erosion CIMAP (1997)  Lucknow  (Pub CIMAP 1997)

7.       TB (2003): see

8.       IUCN list: see

9.       The Ethical Consumer Association are now asking consumers to boycott oils and herbs from endangered, threatened and at-risk species (and products containing extracts from such sources). See

10.    Cropwatch (2003): see

11.    Cropwatch (2004): unpublished information

12.    CITES: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).  Official documents: appendices I, II and III.

13.    See other information on threatened species in the aroma & herb trades on and