Characteristics of Sandalwood Tree (Santalum album) in the Wild

Santalum album
Sandalwood or sandalwood is a medium-sized tropical tree and is the best-known source of sandalwood. This is a tree native to southern India and Southeast Asia, precisely from the Indian peninsula, eastern Indonesia, and northern Australia.

Sandalwood tree is considered sacred by several religions and is used in certain traditions. It is also cultivated on a large scale in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Australia.

The high value of sandalwood wood has led to massive exploitation in the past, where the wild population of this tree is vulnerable to extinction.

Sandalwood trees have high economic value for their essential oils, but due to the lack of large enough trees, they are no longer used for woodworking as before.

The tree is long-lived, although the harvest can only be done after years. In some locations in the wild, it is found growing up to 10-12 meters and more than 100 years old.


Characteristics of Sandalwood Leaf

Santalum album Leaf
Source : Khare

Single leaf, green, rounded with an elongated leaf tip, wavy, measuring 4-8 cm x 2-4 cm, and relatively rare.


Characteristics of Sandalwood Flower

Santalum album Flower
Source : Khare

Sandalwood flower shaped like a bell, 2-3 mm long, which is initially yellow and then slowly turns to dark brownish-red.


Characteristics of Sandalwood Fruit

Santalum album Fruit
Source : B. Friday

The fruit is small, blackish-red, and approximately 1 cm long.


Characteristics of Sandalwood Tree

Santalum album Tree
Source :

Sandalwood bark is reddish, brown, or black and smooth when the tree is young. After the tree matures, the bark will become rough cracks with a reddish color. The sap is pale green and will turn white when exposed to the wind.

There are two types of sandalwood trees, namely Red sandalwood and White sandalwood. Red sandalwood grows in the Funan and India regions, while White sandalwood grows in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.

In terms of quality, the two are not the same. Red Sandalwood is relatively less fragrant and of poor quality, so they are not very popular.

At present, the Sandalwood tree is included in the “vulnerable” tree species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Sandalwood trees are threatened with extinction due to overexploitation and the over-functioning of their habitat.

To preserve this vulnerable resource from over-exploitation, the law protects sandalwood species and manages acquisition and cultivation.

Now, individuals in the Indian state are not permitted to plant sandalwood trees. Because of its rarity, sandalwood trees are not permitted to be cut down or harvested by individuals. Only those granted by the state may cut down sandalwood trees.


The wood is used as a spice, incense material, aromatherapy, a mixture of perfume, as well as the handle of the bayonet and the lucky kris.

Sandalwood tree has become the main source of sandalwood and oil derivatives. The middle part of the tree (wood core) is the part most used to make fragrances.

Sandalwood wood is perfect for carving because of its hard, durable, and fragrant texture.

Sandalwood trees are white or yellowish and are used to make turnery items.

The use of sandalwood in India is recorded in the literature for more than 2,000 years. It has been used as wood and oil in religious practices. The oil is also used as construction material in temples and other places.

In Sri Lanka, sandalwood was used to embalm the bodies of the king’s daughters since the 9th century.


Sandalwood tree has a habitat that is close to dry or coastal forests to an altitude of 700 m above sea level. It usually grows on rocky soil and red soil, but it can also grow on other lands that have good drainage.

Temperatures in the native habitat of sandalwood trees range from 20 °C to 38 °C and annual rainfall between 500 and 3000 mm. To cultivate sandalwood trees, the seeds must be planted in direct sunlight and do not need much water.

Sandalwood tree starts flowering and fruiting after its age of more than 7 years. When the tree is young, the flowers are white, as the tree ages the flowers change color to red or orange. The trunk of the tree itself begins to emit a fragrance after about 10 years or more.


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.