My latest mailing - a precious fragment of oudh is a subscription service for wonderful things. People can subscribe to a curator (such as me, Joel Johnson, Veronica Belmont, Tim Ferriss, Joshua Foer, Gretchen Rubin, and others) to receive a box of items selected by the curator.

In my most recent mailing (MLF03), I sent my subscribers a fungal infection. From my letter:

Before you call a hazardous waste team to dispose of it, though, read what what Chandler Burr, author of the fascinating book, The Emperor of Scent, has to say about the odor of oudh:

It's a drop-dead smell, very complex, honey, fresh tobacco, spices, amber, cream. ... Incredibly strong, first of all. It knocks you over, clubs you like a falling stone. But its vast dimension is what astonishes: a huge smell, spatially immense, and incredibly complex, a buttery layer as deep as a quarry…

Oudh grows inside a particular species of evergreen tree in south Asia. When the fungus attacks the tree, its wood becomes dark and resinous. Oudh is arguably the most-highly prized ingredient for perfume makers and a pound can cost as much as $25,000 (making it over six time more costly than high-grade medical cannabis).

Below, more photos from my mailing.

Subscribe to my next mailing (MLF04) on

See also:

Quarterly Co. interviews Mark

Mark's mailing from EL wire, tiny microscope, and a black light flashlight

Sneak peek at my package of Fantastic Plastic gadgets and novelties


    1. Just like truffles, some people have had a little bit of limited success, but there’s no reliable method.

      1. Seeding truffles is pretty reliable from what I understand. It just takes 25+ years for a new grove to produce, and it stops producing in another 25-50 years. That’s why truffles are currently so expensive when about 100 or so years ago they were relatively affordable. Most of the groves seeded in the past have dried up and it takes so long to prep new ones that the supply shrunk up on us. You basically plant trees using acorns from a truffle producing bit of oak Forrest and and wait a sizable chunk of your life.

        1. I thought that people were looking for a way to take some truffle goop and attach it to a tree root, and then wait a year and get truffles. That’s hard.

          For Oudh, they’ve been doing similar: start with a biggish tree, drill a hole, put in some fungus, wait, get Oudh. 

          Except neither of these is at all reliable, and if you can figure out a way to make it reliable, well, that would mean a lot more truffles and oudh, and maybe a lot of money for you.

  1. I was psyched to receive my Quarterly mailing of oudh. However, I was a little bummed when I found out that oudh (or agarwood, specifically Aquilaria malaccensis)  has been listed since 1995 as a potentially threatened species by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. All other species have been listed as potentially threatened since 2004.

    1.  I did not know that. I was about to ask where I can get more, because there’s not much in the kit. I have used other items on it though, like lavender flowers. Those work pretty well.

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