Elemi/Canariam lozonicum/Canarium commune
Local names: Alangi (Ilk.); alanki (Ilk.): antang (Ibn.); anteng (Ilk.); bakan (Ting.); bakoog (Ilk.); belis (Tag.); bulau (Pang.); malapili (Bik.); pilauai (Tag.); pili (Tag., Bik., S. L. Bis., P. Bis., Ibn.); pisa (Tag.): sahing (Tag.); tugtugin (Tag.).
Description of the tree:
This large tree reaches a height of about 35 meters and is 1 meter or more in diameter. The leaves are alternate, pinnate, and about 30 centimeters long, with usually three pairs of opposite leaflets and a terminal leaflet. The leaflets are smooth, ovate-oblong, 12 to 20 centimeters long, 3 to 7 centimeters wide, smooth and shinning, on both sides, pointed at the apex, and rounded or obtusely pointed at the base. The flowers are clustered, and are borne on large compound inflorescences. The fruit is ovoid, 4 to 5 centimeters long, 2 to 2.5 centimeters wide, entirely smooth, and contains a thick-shelled, triangular seed.
Manila elemi is the soft, fragrant oleoresin obtained from the trunk of Canarium species, the most important of which is C. luzonicum. When fresh, the oleoresin is oily and pale yellow or greenish in colour, resembling crystallized honey in consistency, but on exposure to air it loses some of the volatile constituents and hardens. It has a balsamic odour and a spicy, rather bitter taste.
In the forest areas where it is collected it is rolled in leaves and used for lighting purposes, but in commerce it is used mainly by the fragrance industry after distillation of the essential oil. It still finds occasional use as an ingredient in lacquers and varnishes, where it gives toughness and elasticity to the dried film.
Elemi is an oleoresin, obtained from Canarium commune, Linn. (N.O. Burseraceae). It exudes naturally from the bark of the tree, but its flow is increased by incising the tree and applying heat. It is probably liquid when quite fresh, but gradually solidifies to a crystalline, honey-like mass, in which state it usually arrives in this country from Manila. When fresh, the oleoresin is pale yellow in colour, soft, granular, and opaque, somewhat resembling crystallised honey. On keeping it becomes firmer, yellower, and more transparent. When examined under the microscope it is found to contain numerous acicular crystals. The odour is fragrant, recalling that of mace; the taste ispungent and bitter.
Resins are polyterpenes and their acid derivatives. They are oxidation products of terpenes in all manners of incomplete stages. Resins are very complex chemical compounds and are soluble in organic solvents. They do not have affinity for water. The less soluble resins can be made to dissolve by a process known as ‘running’ or sweating (Mantel, 1950). When the resins contain essential oils, they are called oleoresins or soft resins. Gumresins are a combination of resins and true gums with a mixture of characteristics of both. Certain gumresins contain small amount of essential oil. They are called oleo-gumresins. Small quantities of resins exude on the surface of the trunk due to injury by wind, fire, lightening or wound caused by animals. However, for commercial purpose tapping is necessary. Sometimes the natural exudation is so copious that the resins becomes buried and fossilized in the soil around the trunk. Vast deposits of resin may be found where the original forest has disappeared. Amber is an example of fossil resins.
Three classes of Manila elemi exist for domestic and export trade, although the designations are not always adhered to: class I (within which there are two grades), class II (two grades) and class III (one grade). Class I represents the palest material (the two grades being clean or non-clean), class II a more yellowish material, and class III a mixture of I and II. The softer grades are the higher quality, reflecting a higher essential oil content compared with the harder grades.
COLLECTION/PRIMARY PROCESSING of Elemi
In a survey of tapping methods practised in the Philippines (ALONZO and ORDINARIO, 1972), tappers used a sharp "bolo" and a wooden mallet to make a series of cuts up the trunk of the tree, each cut resulting in removal of bark and exudation of the oleoresin. The diameter of the trees tapped was in the range 20-60 cm. The initial strip of bark which is removed should be 2 cm high and not more than 30 cm wide. Subsequent strips (1 cm high) are removed at approximately two?day intervals above and adjacent to the previous one, and tapping is continued as high as the person can reach. A second face may be opened close to the first, providing at least one third of the circumference of the bark of the tree is left intact. The exuded, sticky mass is collected at two-week intervals, usually by scraping it off the tree with a blunt-tipped bolo or stick.
After transport to the towns, elemi which is destined for export is cleaned by manual removal of as much bark and other forest debris as possible. The cleaned resin is then packed in polythene-lined kerosene cans.
Yields are known to vary from tree to tree, but no reliable quantitative data are available; yields of 4-5 kg of resin per tree annually have been reported in the older literature. Tapping is usually a year-round activity, but resin flow is at its greatest during the rainy season and little, if any, may be collected in the dry months.
The essential oil distilled from Manila Elemi is mainly used for fragrance applications (such as soap and perfumes) and as a base for liniment. Manila Elemi still finds occasional use as an ingredient in lacquers and varnishes, where it gives toughness and elasticity to the dried film. It has also been used for the manufacture of printing inks, surface coatings for textiles and paper, incense, linoleum, oilcloth, waterproofing compositions and as an insect repellent in cabinets. Manila elemi has also beenused for fixing the wooden handles of iron tools.
Essential Oil Composition
The above link gives extensive information on chemical composition of Elemi
Elemi Essential Oil
Elemi Oil is responsible for the fresh-lemony peppery odor of crude elemi and of elemi resinoid. The main constituent of Elemi is Phellandrene, a very untable terpene, widely distributed in the plant kingdom. Small amounts of high boiling, oxygenated compounds lend character and interesting dry-out notes tothis oils which is found in amounts of 25-28% in cruded elemi oleoresin.
Elemi oil is colorless or pale yellow, mobile, possessing a light, fresh, lemon-like, peppery odor which later dries out into a balsamic, slightly green-woody, sweet-spicy, pleasant note..
Natural Elemi Oil is very useful as a freshener and topnote material in various perfume compositions eg fougeres, chypres, colognes and even in heavy-sweet floral bases.
Blends well with cinnamon bark oil, olibanum, labdanum, rosemary, lavindin, sage, etc