massoia tree is a medium-sized tree of the Lauracean family from New
Guinea. It has optimal growth in rainforests between 400 m and 1000
m altitude. The aromatic bark from the tree has been an article of
commerce for centuries. For example, it has been used by Javanese
and Balinese women to prepare a warming ointment, called bobory,
with a pleasant smell. It is said that white people get a scarlet
blushing of the skin from this remedy, and today the concentrated
oil from massoia bark is considered a skin irritant.
Massoia bark has a sweet, coconut-like aroma and is steam distilled
to yield massoia bark oil. The bark is obtained by cutting the tree
at the base, making circular incisions at one meter intervals,
lifting the bark off and allowing it to dry. Each tree yields on
average 65 kg of air dried bark. Current global supply of massoia
bark oil comes from Indonesia, primarily from Irian jaya which is
the western half of New Guinea. Its main use is in the flavour
industry, where the major constituent,
6-n-pentyl-5,6-dihydro-2-pyrone or massoia lactone (70 %, sometimes
more) is used as an additive in butter and milk flavors
(international FEMA code 3744) under kosher guidelines  .
This lactone has also been identified in some flowers, e.g.
The photo on the right shows an experimental still used by Topul
Rali, Ph.D., University of Papua New Guinea.