Gamboge is a product of several trees of E. Asia, species of Gar-cinia, natives of Cambodia, the province of Chantibun in Siam, the islands on the E. coast of the Gulf of Siam, the S. parts of Cochin China, the moist forests of Ceylon and S. India, and the southern forests of Travancore and the Tinnevelly Ghats. When the rainy season has set in, parties of natives start in search of gamboge-trees, and select those which are sufficiently matured. A spiral incision is made in the bark on two sides of the tree, and joints of bamboo are placed at the base of the incision so as to catch the gum-resin as it exudes with extreme slowness during a period of several months. It issues as a yellowish fluid, but gradually assumes a viscous and finally a solid state in the bamboo receptacle. It is very commonly adulterated with rice-flour and the powdered bark of the tree, but the latter imparts a greenish tint. Sand is occasionally added. The product from a good tree may fill three bamboo joints, each 16 to 20 in. long and 1 1/2 in. in diameter The trees flourish on both high and low land. Annual tapping is said to shorten their lives, but if the gum-resin is only drawn in alternate years, the trees do not seem to suffer, and last for many years.
Dr. Jamie, of Singapore, who has gamboge-trees growing on his estate, says that they flourish most luxuriantly in the dense jungles. He considers the best time for cutting to be February to April. The filled bamboos are rotated near a fire till the moisture in the gamboge has evaporated sufficiently to permit the bamboo to be stripped from the hardened gum-resin. The gamboge is secreted by the tree chiefly in numerous ducts in the middle layer of the bark, besides a little in the dotted vessels of the outermost layer of the wood, and in the pith. It arrives in commerce in the form of cylinders, 4 to 8 in. long and 1 to 2 1/2 in. in diameter, often more or less rendered shapeless. When good, it is dense, homogeneous, brittle, showing conchoidal fracture, scarcely translucent, and of rich brownish-orange colour. Inferior qualities show rough granular fracture and brownish hue, and are sometimes still soft. The pigment consists of a mixture of 15 to 20 per cent, gum with 85 to 80 per cent, resin.