Is Palo Santo Endangered?

Recently, there has been a lot of press about Palo Santo being endangered. As a company who loves this sacred wood and shares its benefits with our customers, we’d like to clear up some confusion on the issue. 

Palo Santo, also known as, Holy Wood, derives from a family of sacred trees that grow on the coast of South America. What some may not know is there are actually two South American trees called Palo Santo, and they are both frequently enjoyed for their fragrances. Although these trees share the name Palo Santo, they are two totally different species that grow in different parts of the vast Spanish region. One of these species, a mahogany-like tree known to botanists as Bulnesia sarmientoi, actually is threatened with over-exploitation…but not the one we sell (Bursera graveolens).

Here’s an easy way to tell the two types of Palo Santo apart: Palo Santo from the threatened Bulnesia sarmientoi tree is dark and reddish, akin to mahogany. Palo Santo from sustainably harvested Bursera graveolens, such as what our vendors provide, is yellowish-tan, similar to pine, and sometimes streaked with darker shades of gray or brown.

While the logging of Bulnesia sarmiento in the Gran Chaco is a serious ecological problem, as is the deforestation that is happening across South America and the world beyond, the production of our vendors Bursera graveolens is actually contributing to reforestation and sustainable livelihoods in the arid hill-country of coastal Ecuador.

Palo Santo (Bursera graveolens) trees are never cut down. In fact, it is illegal to do so under Ecuador’s strict conservation laws. After strong annual storms knock Palo Santo trees down, the fallen wood must remain on the forest floor for up to a decade to allow the aromatic resins to develop and cure. When a Palo Santo tree falls in the Ecuadorian forest, our vendors plant more! Since 2008, our vendor has worked with partnering communities to plant tens of thousands Palo Santo trees, ensuring abundance for generations to come.

Help Bee You support the sustainability and fair trade of sacred Bursera graveolens Palo Santo wood.

Sacred Woods Essence (2019, August) Sutainability Section

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