Medicinal and Aromatic Plants—Industrial Profiles

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fundamentally wrong and bad marketing practice to offer grades of a product unless it is
quite apparent that there is a difference in quality or efficacy between the grades.
However Australia in particular does have the opportunity to produce unique quality oils.
The industry is fortunate in that a great amount of research into this essential oil has
been, and is still, being carried out. There are already indications that different pathogens
are susceptible to tea tree oils of different composition. It is therefore likely that natural
oils with the most effective composition for particular purposes can be developed by
blending, selection or breeding. The potential for breeding to obtain most effective oils
for specific purposes is heavily in Australia’s favour. The vast resource of ISO Standard
tea tree oil-bearing trees in species other than M. alternifolia gives Australia a great
advantage in developing specific purpose oils. Research is well under way to capitalize
on this advantage.
In 1997 Australia has to recognise that despite discovering and developing tea tree oil, it
now, and particularly in the future, has to compete with other countries, particularly the low
cost tropical countries. It must be appreciated also that there is no level playing field here.
Many of the Asian countries have a cost structure which will allow them to produce tea tree
oil at a fraction of our production cost. Furthermore, they might well receive funding from
Australia, as well as other developed nations, to help them.
In order to maintain a prominent place in the market, a country must supply the oil at
lower cost or higher quality, or provide unique products containing the oil. To compete
solely on cost is almost impossible, but it might not be necessary to meet the lowest price if
other factors are in that country’s favour, although the price cannot afford to be much above
the lowest priced good quality oil. Therefore the industry must concentrate on supplying a
fairly competitive product, giving excellent service, and ultimately supplying unique specific
purpose oils not easily matched by other countries. The market trend not only in degree, but
also in direction, will depend on the ability of the industry to achieve these objects. Current
R & D in areas of tea tree breeding, agronomy, weed and insect control, quality control,
factors effecting oil yield and quality, bioactivity, clinical trials, toxicity, sensitization and
product formulation and development will play a big part in meeting these goals. These
topics are covered in other chapters in this book.
The industry must continue research into:
Development of superior plant stock showing increased growth rate (possibly hybrid
vigour) and higher yield of oil. This work is already well advanced.
Finding the oil composition most effective against specific pathogens.
Developing strains which will produce oil of the required type.
Development of more useful products containing tea tree oil.
Obtain regulatory approval for tea tree oil and products.
Specific purpose oils might also be produced by modification of oils, either by blending
with oils from other species or other genera, or by chemical processes. In the case of chemical
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

modification or blending with other genera the oil might then not qualify to be sold as tea
tree oil, but could still be an outlet for tea tree oil in value added products.
If these objectives are achieved, the market trend will be upward.
However, the tea tree oil industry, if it is to consolidate its position on the world market,
and thereby attain an upward sales trend, must reverse its present trend of contracting from
a broad composition oil to a very narrow composition oil. It must promote all tea tree oil
which conforms to the Australian and International Standards as a fine product. It should be
mutually supportive and realise that future competition will be from many countries. It
must use its great advantage in the diversity of species available to develop superior plant
stock exhibiting increased growth rate, increased yield of oil, and specific strains which
will be most effective against specific pathogens. Following this path, which is not available
to all countries, together with the development of more useful tea tree products which have
regulatory approval, will result in a continuing upward trend in the sale of tea tree oil.
International Standards Organization (1996) Oil of Melaleuca, terpinen-4-ol type (Tea Tree Oil).
International Standard ISO 4730:1996(E), International Standards Organization, Geneva, 8pp.
Opdyke, D.L.J. (1975) Fragrance raw materials monographs (eucalyptol), Food and Cosmetics
Toxicology., 13, 105–106.
Penfold, A.R. (1925) The essential oils of Melaleuca linariifolia (Smith) and M. alternifolia (Cheel).
J. Proc. Roy. Soc. NSW., 59, 306–325.
Southwell, I.A. (1996) Tea tree oil, skin irritancy and bioactivity. Australasian Aromatherapy Conference,
Sydney, March—April 1996, Sec. 4, 11pp.
Southwell, I.A., Hayes, A.J., Markham, J. and Leach, D.N. (1993) The search for optimally bioactive
Australian tea tree oil. Acta Horticulture, 344, 256–265.
Southwell, I.A., Markham, J. and Mann, C. (1996) Is cineole detrimental to tea tree oil? Perfumer &.
Flavourist, 21, 7–10.
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products, Canberra, Australia
Cajuput (also spelt ‘cajaput’ or ‘cajeput’) oil, or minyak kayu putih as it is called in Indonesia
and Malaysia (minyak is Malay/Indonesian for oil), is obtained from the leaves of Melaleuca
cajuputi (
Plates 4


) and some closely related species by steam distillation. Cajuput is
most likely a corruption of the Indonesian name for the tree, kayu putih (kayu/wood and
putih/white). The cajuput oil industry has its origins in the natural stands of Melaleuca
cajuputi subsp. cajuputi in the Maluku archipelago of Indonesia, probably in the first part
of the eighteenth century. It has been a popular household medication in countries such as
India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam for many generations. The Australian Aborigines
used preparations from the leaves of this species in the treatment of aches and pains and
inhaled the aromatic vapours from crushed leaves to reduce nasal and bronchial congestion
(Aboriginal Communities of the N.T. 1993). It was one of the first products imported to
Europe from South East Asia by the Dutch, an activity described in several early eighteenth
century publications (Gildemeister and Hoffman 1961 cited in Lowry 1973), because of its
reputation as a panacea in the treatment of all kinds of diseases.
The chemical composition of cajuput oil has been the subject of several studies (
Table 1
Ekundayo et al. 1987), and wide variation in composition within the principal source species
(i.e. within and between populations of M. cajuputi sens. lat.) has been found. It appears
that different chemical forms of the species predominate in different parts of the natural
range (see Table 1) and that their occurrence parallels, in part, the natural distribution of
three morphologically variable subspecies, subsp. cajuputi, subsp. cumingiana (Turczaninow)
Barlow and subsp. platyphylla Barlow (see below).
Commercial cajuput oil is mainly derived from M. cajuputi subsp. cajuputi. The oil of
this taxon mostly, but not always, contains substantial amounts of 1,8-cineole (3–60%),
and the sesquiterpene alcohols globulol (trace–9%), viridiflorol (trace–16%) and
spathulenol (trace–30%). Other compounds present usually in significant quantities are
limonene (trace–5%), ß-caryophyllene (trace–4%), humulene (trace–2%), viridiflorene
α-terpineol (1–8%), a- and ß-selinene (each 0–3%) and caryophyllene oxide
(trace–7%). This oil will hereafter be referred to as ‘type’ oil. The aromatic ether, cajeputol,
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Table 1 Variation in the chemical composition of Melaleuca cajuputi oil by region and subspecies
reported from Indonesian oil
Brophy and Doran (1998); 
Brophy and Doran (1997);
B.Caruhapattana (1994); 
Yaacob et al. (1989); 
Motl et al. (1990); 
Todorova and Ognyanov (1988).
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

appears to be absent from the oil of this subspecies. Oil yield ranges from 0.4% to 1.2%
(w/w%, fresh weight).
The essential oil of M. cajuputi subsp. cumingiana is highly variable in character. The
main components reported in oil from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam (non-or
low-1,8-cineole forms) are 
γ-terpinene (0–19%), and terpinolene (0–22%). These are
accompanied by lesser amounts of the hydrocarbons 
α-pinene (1–10%), α-thujene (0–8%),
α-phellandrene (trace–2%), α-terpinene (0–3%), limonene (trace–3%) and p-cymeme (0–
12%) as well as the ether 1,8-cineole (0–6%). Oxygenated monoterpenes are represented
by terpinen-4-ol (0–6%) and 
α-terpineol (trace–3%). The major sesquiterpenes detected in
the oil are 
α-, and γ-eudesmol (0–2%), caryophyllene oxide (0–7%), α- and ß-selinene (0–
4%), viridiflorene (0–3%), humulene (4–14%), aromadendrene (0–5%) and ß-caryophyllene
(7–44%). There are only small amounts (up to 2%) of the aromatic ether, cajeputol, in oil
from Thailand and Vietnam but much larger proportions in oil from Kalimantan, Indonesia
and Malaysia (up to 18%). Oil yield ranges from 0.3% to 0.5% (w/w%, fresh weight).
Two separate reports of the composition of cajuput oil from Long An Province of Vietnam
(Todorova and Ognyanov 1988; Motl et al. 1990) showed typical commercial oils with 1,8-
cineole in abundance (41–48%) along with smaller amounts of 
α-terpineol and other mainly
monoterpenoid compounds. Presumably these oil samples were extracted from specimens
of subsp. cumingiana. However, because of the wide-spread cultivation of M. cajuputi over
some centuries for its oil, the potential transport of seed of subsp. cajuputi across the natural
boundaries separating subspecies cannot be ignored.
The essential oils of M. cajuputi subsp. platyphylla occur in two chemotypes. Typically,
the oils contain significant quantities of 
α-pinene (34–73%), with lesser amounts of 1,8-
cineole (0.2–3%), 
γ-terpinene (trace–2%), p-cymene (trace–1%), terpinolene (trace–1%),
ß-caryophyllene (2–14%), aromadendrene (1–9%), humulene (1–7%), viridiflorene (trace–
3%), caryophyllene oxide (trace–2%), globulol (trace–6%), viridiflorol (trace–2%),
spathulenol (trace–3%) with an absence of cajeputol. Oil yield of this chemotype is 0.1–
0.4% (w/w%, fresh weight). A second chemotype, recently reported from one site in Papua
New Guinea (Brophy and Doran 1997), contains the ß-triketone, platyphyllol (21–80%),
and cajeputol (0.6–51%). The oil yield of this chemotype ranges from 0.2% to 0.6% (w/
w%, fresh weight).
The large variation in the chemical composition of commercial cajuput oil is partly a
reflection of the substantial natural variation in the oil of M. cajuputi but is due also to the
use of somewhat similar oil from alternative species (e.g. M. quinquenervia, Asteromyrtus
symphyocarpa) and the common industry practice of blending cajuput oil with oils and
individual compounds from other sources (Penfold and Morrison 1950; Lassak 1996).
Colour and Odour
Cajuput oil is mainly a pale yellow mobile liquid sometimes with a greenish-bluish tint.
Suggested reasons for this green-blue colouration include the presence of azulene compounds
in the higher boiling fractions of the oil, distillation using copper materials, copper chelation
with constituents like cajeputol (3,5-dimethyl-4,6-di-O-methylphloro-acetophenone) and
the addition of suitable dyes to obtain the “correct” colour (Penfold and Morrison 1950;
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Lowry 1973). Some cajuput oils with significant amounts of the eudesmols solidify after
extraction to a whitish paste. The odour of commercial oil is rather penetrating with a
camphoraceous-medicinal aroma, similar to but milder and more fruity than cineole-rich
Eucalyptus oil (Lawless 1995).
Physicochemical Properties
Reports of the physicochemical properties of cajuput oil are summarised in Table 2.
Cajuput oil is classified as non-toxic (rodent LD
 of 2–5g/kg, Tisserand and Balacs 1995)
and non-sensitizing, although skin irritation may occur at high concentrations (Lawless
Lassak and McCarthy (1983) described the medicinal uses of cajuput oil:
The oil is used internally for the treatment of coughs and colds, against stomach cramps,
colic and asthma; the dose is one to five drops. It is used externally for the relief of neuralgia
and rheumatism, often in the form of ointments and liniments. External application of a few
drops on cotton wool for the relief of toothache and earache.
The oil is also reputed to have insect-repellent properties; it is a sedative and relaxant and
is useful in treating worms, particularly roundworm, and infections of the genitourinary
system. It is also used as a flavouring in cooking and as a fragrance and freshening agent in
soaps, cosmetics, detergents and perfumes (Sellar 1992; Lawless 1995).
The antimicrobial constituents of cajuput oil have been identified as including 1,8-cineole,
(-)-linalool, (-)-terpinen-4-ol, (±)-
α-terpineol (Nguyen Duy Cuong et al. 1994) and 3,5-
dimethyl-4,6-di-O-methylphloroacetophenone (or cajeputol) (Lowry 1973).
The use of platyphyllol and similar compounds as sunscreens, bactericides and fungicides
has been patented (Joulain and Racine 1994).
Table 2 Physicochemical properties of cajuput oil
Gildemeister and Hoffmann cited in Penfold and Morrison (1950).
Guenther cited in Penfold and Morrison (1950),
Penfold and Morrison (1950).
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Supply Sources
The two principal centres of production of cajuput oil are Indonesia and Vietnam. In
Indonesia, there are two sources of ‘type’ oils. Estimates of production from the natural
stands on the Maluku archipelago suggest that a total of some 90tonnes of oil are produced
annually on Buru, Ceram, Ambon and adjacent islands (Gunn et al. 1996). Production from
an estimated 9,000ha of Government-owned plantation on Java, established using seed from
trees from the Maluku Islands, amounted to approximately 280tonnes in 1993 (Ministry of
Forestry 1995). A minor source of production in Indonesia is southeastern Irian Jaya, where
a cineole-rich cajuput oil is produced from Asteromyrtus symphyocarpa, a species that was
until recently included as part of the Melaleuca genus (Craven 1989). No published figures
are available on how much of this oil type reaches the market. Production figures for southern
Vietnam are not readily available but were estimated by Motl et al. (1990) to be in the order
of 100tonnes per annum.
Annual world production of cajuput oil is impossible to quantify accurately, but it would
appear to be in the order of 600 tonnes. With a distillery-gate price in Indonesia of about
US$7.20 per kg of oil, this indicates an industry value of US$4.3 million before further
processing.* However, recent communications with an international buyer of cajuput oil
suggest a production of more than twice this figure.
Quality and Prices
There is no accepted International Quality Standard for cajuput oil. As a result, commercial
cajuput oils may differ very significantly from one another in a number of characteristics
(e.g. chemical composition, colour, smell—see 
Properties and Uses
). The method of grading
oil of Melaleuca cajuputi subsp. cajuputi in the Maluku archipelago of Indonesia, the home
of the industry, is described below.
Cajuput oil is purchased and sold in three grades on the Maluku islands (Gunn et al.
1996). Grading depends on the location of harvest. Grade 1, the best quality oil, comes
from hillside operations and fetches US$8.80–9.60 per kg* at the farm gate. Grade 2, the
medium quality class, comes from low-elevation sites and is priced at about US$7.20 per
kg*. Gunn et al. (1996) were unable to confirm the origins of Grade 3 oil, but presumably
this comes from stands of M. cajuputi which have a high percentage of trees that produce
oil of very low cineole content, such as Gogoria and Wai Geren on Buru Island (Walton
1996). Chemical analysis of oil from stills at various sites showed that the 1,8-cineole
percentage of Grade 1 oil was indeed greater than that of Class 2 oil (
Table 3
Plantation-grown oil from Java has an average cineole content of 55% and sold at the
factory gate for US$9.40 per kg* in 1997 (Ansorudin 1997). The composition of a sample
of oil from a distillery in central Java is given in Table 3.
* These estimates were made in 1996/97 before the devaluation of Asian currencies. In 1998 the distillery-gate
price in Indonesia had dropped to about US$1.50 per kg of oil or about 20% of its previous value.
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Botanical and Common Names
Family: Myrtaceae
Principal source plant
Melaleuca cajuputi Powell (syn. M. leucadendron, M. minor)
Common names: kayu putih (Indonesia), cajuput, swamp tea tree, paperbark (Australia),
punk tree (USA)
Minor source plants
Asteromyrtus symphyocarpa (F.Muell.) Craven (syn. Melaleuca symphyocarpa)
Common name: liniment tree (Australia)
Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) S.T.Blake
Common names: broad-leaved paperbark, belbowrie (Australia), niaouli (New Caledonia)
Description and Distribution of M. cajuputi
Melaleuca cajuputi is usually a single stemmed, small tree up to 25 m tall, although it may
reach 40m and 1.2m in diameter in some situations (
Plates 18

). It carries dense, dull
green foliage with grey to white papery bark. The exact limits of the natural range of M.
cajuputi are not known as the species has been cultivated in Asia for more than 100 years.
The approximate boundaries are given in 
Figure 1
. The latitudinal range is 12°N–18°S and
the range in altitude 5–400m. Three subspecies are recognised, subsp. cajuputi, subsp.
Table 3 Composition of the three grades of cajuput oil found in the market and in the villages on
Buru Island (2 grades given here) in comparison with oil from the plantations in Central Java.
Quality is partly based on the abundance of 1,8-cineole in the oil which appears to be associated
with the locality of harvest in the Maluku Islands
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

Figure 1 The natural distribution of Melaleuca cajuputi giving the approximate boundaries of the three subspecies. The Maluku Islands
of Ambon, Buru and Ceram, the home of the cajuput oil industry, are shown in greater detail in the insert to the figure
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.
Copyright © 1999 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Published by license under the Harwood Academic Publishers imprint,
part of The Gordon and Breach Publishing Group.

cumingiana (Turczaninow) Barlow and subsp. platyphylla Barlow (Craven and Barlow
1997) and the approximate boundaries of their distribution are given in 
Figure 1
The western portion of the distribution, taking in several countries in South East Asia, is
geographically disjunct from the Australasian distribution and represents the only natural
occurrence of Melaleuca beyond the Australasian geophysical boundary (Barlow 1988).
Differences in genetic structure between populations east and west of Wallace’s line based on
allozyme variation led Lum (1993) to the hypothesis that M. cajuputi has spread naturally from
Australia into South East Asia, aided by the species’ propensity for invading disturbed sites.
Ecology of M. cajuputi
This is a species primarily of the hot humid climatic zone. Mean annual rainfall ranges from
600–4000mm with a strong monsoonal pattern and a dry season (consecutive months of
<40mm) of up to 8 months. The species grows in a wide range of situations but most stands
are found on low swampy coastal plains often on heavy-textured black soils that are subject
to flooding. An exception is populations in Indonesia on the Maluku Islands of Buru, Ceram
and adjacent islands. Here extensive and mostly pure populations extend away from the
coast to inhabit infertile, gravelly ridges with a subsoil of pale orange to red clay. In wet
swamps M. cajuputi forms pure forest or mixed open-forest or woodland where it is
commonly associated with other tea trees and various eucalypts.
Silvicultural Features and Utilisation
Melaleuca cajuputi is a moderately fast growing tropical tree adapted to both waterlogged
and well-drained soils. In addition to cajuput oil, it is a useful source of wood (fuel, posts
and poles, household products, construction materials and boat building) and honey and
provides shade, shelter and wildlife habitat. M. cajuputi is resistant to fire and tolerates
exposure to wind. It has the ability to compete with weeds and will regenerate in Imperata
grassland. It has an extensive root system, and on soils subject to prolonged waterlogging it
develops aerial adventitious roots which can form buttresses on the lower trunk. It will
coppice and has the ability to reproduce from suckers. Doran and Turnbull (1997) is a
useful source of further information.
Genetic Resources
Melaleuca cajuputi remains relatively common throughout its wide geographic range.
Genetic variation in many traits is likely, given the range of environments where the species
is found and large variation in morphology and oil characteristics. Careful selection of
well-adapted and fast-growing seed sources of the high-cineole chemotype will be paramount
for plantation development aimed at cajuput oil production. The Australian Tree Seed Centre
of CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products, in collaboration with the Indonesian Forest Tree
Improvement Research and Development Institute, is assembling range-wide seed collections
of M. cajuputi suitable for this purpose (Doran and Gunn 1994; Gunn et al. 1997).
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