Sandalwood: Characteristics, Uses, Cultivation And Propagation

different types of Sandalwood in India

During this post, we will discuss about Sandalwood, type of sandalwood, classification of sandalwood, its uses, cultivation and propagation, as well as the exploitation of sandalwood.

The sandalwood tree is well known for its fragrance and it belongs to the genus Santalum. The wood is heavy, yellow, and fine-grained, and it retains its fragrance for decades.

The oil of sandalwood is extracted from the woods for its scent. There is no doubt that it is one of the most expensive woods in the world. For centuries, both wood and oil have been highly valued for their distinctive scent. As a result, some species of these slow-growing trees have been overharvested in the past.




Geography Of Sandalwood

Many types of sandalwood are found in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia, Indonesia, Hawaii, and other Pacific Islands.


Sandalwood’s Historical Importance

Since time immemorial, it is the most valuable timber in India for its religious and cultural significance. In all major religions of India, it has held a special place in Indian social rituals.

India’s oral and written traditions reflect the importance of Indian sandalwood and its intimate association with Indians. Heartwood is highly valued for its aromatic essential oils in both national and international markets.

The oil is used in aromatherapy, cosmetics, perfumes, pharmaceuticals, and as an essential commodity on special occasions.





Types Of Sandalwood

Different types of sandalwood are classified by their aroma and they can also be classified based on their historical footprints.

Sandalwood comes in fifteen species, including East Indian sandalwood, Australian sandalwood, Hawaiian sandalwood, and Pacific Island sandalwood.




Kingdom: Plantae
Division  : Tracheophyta
Class       : Magnoliopsida
Family     : Santalaceae
Genus      : Santalum
Species    : It comes in various types of species
ex: Santalum album (White Sandalwood)


Sandalwood’s Importance

It is very influential in traditional and modern medicine. Its fragrance makes has it is a crucial part of cosmetic products.


1. Traditional Medical Uses Of Sandalwood

The oil has been used in traditional medicine as an antiseptic and astringent, as well as to treat headaches, stomachaches, and urinary and genital disorders.

The essential oil, emulsion, or paste of it is used in India to treat inflammatory and eruptive skin diseases.

Traditional Ayurvedic medicine uses oil as a diuretic and mild stimulant, as well as for smoothing the skin.

Early Hawaiians used the leaves and bark to treat dandruff, lice, skin inflammation, and sexually transmitted diseases.


2. Modern Medical Uses Of Sandalwood

The research and reports suggest that oil can be used to treat inflammation, anxiety, wound healing, skin cancer, and bacterial infections.


3. Sandalwood’s Daily Uses

Many people around the world enjoy the scent of its oil, evoking soft breezes, restful spaces, and a sense of calm hence used as a scent.

Its soft, woody aroma is popular in soaps and body scrubs, and it’s been used in Indian skincare for centuries.

The trees are famous worldwide for making furniture because of the fragrant heartwood.







Cultivation and Propagation Of Sandalwood

It is one of the materials that has been used for centuries and this tree is evergreen with a height of 13 to 16 meters and a girth of 100 to 200 cm and is a variety of habits, usually upright to sprawling. Aside from its cultural significance, it is also used commercially and medicinally.

Although there are many types of sandalwood available in the world, Indian and Australian sandalwood are very popular and have excellent commercial value. Even though the returns on sandalwood cultivation are very high, naturally grown trees take 30 years to be ready for harvesting, while intensive cultivation in organic methods gives quick results in 10 to 15 years.




Sandalwood Exploitation

Santalum album is a species renowned for its heartwood and essential oil, which are obtained from mature specimen trees.

For this purpose Overexploitation and illegal trade of wood have resulted in the decline of natural sandalwood populations due to the unmet needs for perfumery (fragrance) and food additives (flavor).

An estimated global annual demand for wood is *8000 tons (the equivalent of 190 tons of oil), involving a trade of approximately US$125 million, with only 10% sourced from natural resources.

IUCN has listed the species as threatened due to a natural enemy in the form of mycoplasmal ‘spike disease’.



Sandalwood is famous all over the world for its oil fragrance. It is commonly found in Asia (India, Pakistan) and Australia, and is of historical importance as it is in the field of Indian medicine and modern medicine. It is a type of sandalwood that belongs to the family called Santalaceae .It is cultivation from seed and is exploited due to its high value in the market and its fragrance.

Frequently Asked Question

Different types of sandalwood ?

A total of 17+ species of sandalwood are recognized; they include East Indian sandalwood, Australian sandalwood, Hawaiian sandalwood, and hybrid sandalwood grown for commercial purpose.

How to identify sandalwood tree

Sandalwood trees can be identified based on their leaves' shape, color, veins, and texture.

What family does sandalwood belong to ?


Why is sandalwood so popular?

One of the most expensive woods in the world is sandalwood. Wood and oil produce a distinctive fragrance that has been highly valued for centuries. Therefore, some species of these slow-growing trees have suffered over-harvesting in the past.

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