The Truth About Palo Santo

There's a rumor circulating that Palo Santo is going extinct and that there are only 250 trees left.  We want to address this because there is a lot of misinformation out there!


There are two types of trees that have been coined as “holy wood,” or Palo Santo. But they belong to separate plant orders/species.


The Bulnesia Sarmientoi Palo Santo tree is native to Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia.  It has a gorgeous reddish color and it’s used mostly for making furniture. Unfortunately, this type of Palo Santo is 100% in danger of extinction and needs to be protected and reforested🌳🌞 


The Palo Santo that has gained lots of popularity over the last few years is from the Bursera Graveolens tree (native to Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Yucatán Peninsula, and more). It is the beautiful, warm smelling tan-colored woody incense that you’re probably most familiar with burning. 


The idea that this type of Palo Santo is endangered is damaging to the local artisans and communities that harvest it. They are interested in conserving the biome’s natural habitat (it’s actually not a rainforest!) because:

  •  it is their land and 
  • it’s also what provides economic security for their families. 

In December 2019, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reviewed the conservation status of Bursera Graveolens Palo Santo and labeled it “of least concern.”


The Palo Santo that we source for Heritage products is from a family owned business in Ecuador that only harvests the fallen branches of mature trees. 


And yes, there are an abundance of fallen branches because:

  1.  It is a dominant tree in the region
  2. They reforest (grow Palo Santo trees in their nursery and replant them throughout their natural habitat) every year without fail. 

Hopefully this helps ease your conscience around Palo extinction and sustainability! Please feel free to ask and questions in the comments or via email. 


Lastly, we'd love it if you joined us in sending thoughts of gratitude to plant teachers like Palo Santo and also to the communities that have shared such a powerfully potent cleansing plant for our spiritual and physical healing💗 

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