Santalum album: Habit, Distribution, Characteristics, Phytochemical Constituents,  Aromatic and, medicinal value

Santalum album: Habit, Distribution, Characteristics, Phytochemical Constituents,  Aromatic and, medicinal value


One of the oldest and most valuable beneficial plants is the sandal (Santalum album L.). Because of this plant’s several uses, it was tamed. Although it can regenerate naturally, more research is necessary to develop artificial seed propagation. Many issues with seed germination have been noted. Raising quality planting stock via reputable seed sources and high-quality seed manufacturing will help achieve this (Das and Tah, 2013). Among the forest crops with high economic value, the sandal is in the lead (Sundararaj, 2008). It is a source of the essential East Indian sandalwood oil that supports Indian culture. The fragrance industry has used the oil derived from the sandal tree’s heartwood continuously for more than 2000 years. The sandal is a polymorphic species, according to a previous study (Srimathi et al., 1995). Aside from the obvious obstacles, the willful destruction of trees by dishonest people has had such severe effects that the tree that is the foundation of Indian culture is at risk of going extinct and has been declared an endangered species. Therefore, it is essential to safeguard the species from extinction and replenish the weak population with top-notch, economically viable seedlings. Due to its high economic value, farmers and landowners are sufficiently encouraged to cultivate the sandalwood tree for commercial purposes, and farmers may also earn a lot of money by growing other species of sandalwood thanks to the development of superior varieties. The biology of this species reproduction is crucial for these objectives.

There are 400 species total in the Santalaceae family, distributed among 29 genera, 19 of which are unique to the Santalum genus (Fox 2000; Harbaugh 2007; Harbaugh and Baldwin 2007; Nageswara Rao et al., 2010; Harbaugh et al., 2010). Teixeira da Silva et al. (2016) state that based on the Plant List (2015), only 12 species names are acknowledged while 41 remain unresolved, even though different authors have reported on the genus or number of species differently. One of the 18 species they listed has been reported to be extinct, Santalum fernandezianum. Therefore, it is important to focus on other things, especially when it comes to the taxonomy of the genera.

Taxonomic position

Kingdom – Plantae

Order – Santalales

Family – Santalaceae

Genus – Santalum

Species – Santalum album.

Common Names: Indian Sandalwood, White Sandalwood, Chandana, Hari-chandana, Chandan

Habit and Distribution

The species are found in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, and they may reach altitudes of up to 1200 m, which is where the renowned “sandalwood belt” is. There are fewer acres of Sandalwood forests in Kerala than in the other states. In Marayoor and a few of the forest sections in the Wayanad Hills, sandalwood trees can be found. In addition to India, it is also found in Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Belgium, Spain, China, Cambodia, Madagascar, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, and the United States.


1. The Santalum album Linn., often known as “Chandan” locally, is a member of the plant kingdom’s Santalaceae family.

2. The genus Santalum, which is in the family Santalaceae, is home to the most widely recognized and commonly used fragrant tree known as the sandalwood tree.

3. The term sandalwood alone indicates that it is a woody tree. The tree is also referred to as a white sandal tree in English and is traded as East Indian sandalwood. It is listed as a plant species that is vulnerable (IUCN 2000).

4. A small to medium-sized tree with opposite leaves, axillary or terminal hermaphrodite blooms, a trichotomous panniculate cymose inflorescence, and small globose fruiting berries, the Santalum album is evergreen, glabrous, and semi-parasitic.

5. The heartwood is yellowish in colour and fragrant, whereas the sapwood is white and odourless.

6. As a root parasite, the tree creates haustoria that make contact with the host. It depends in part on its host for nitrogen and phosphate, but it directly absorbs lime and potash from the soil through roots.

7. Indian sandalwood (Santalum album), also known as East Indian sandalwood and one of several Santalum species, stands out for its highly prized oil and wood.

8. A medium-sized evergreen tree, sandalwood can grow to a height of 12 to 15 metres and a girth of up to 2.4 metres (Sen Sarma, 1982).

9. The branches are both upright and thinly drooped. Although sandalwood is a light demander, it does not tolerate severe overhead shade throughout the middle and late phases of growth.

10. Sandalwood grows well in the early stages under partial shade. Since sandalwood is not a particularly demanding species, it may thrive in a wide range of environmental factors, including long stretches of dry weather, moderate rainfall (600 to 1600 mm), and elevations ranging from sea level to 1800 m. (Troup, 1921).

11. Although it adapts well to a variety of soil types, including sand, clay, red soils, laterite loam, and even black cotton soils, it prefers red ferruginous loam with variable fertility (Singh, 1995). In regions that are submerged in water or extremely cold, it does not grow well.

12. It is well known that trees growing in stony or gravelly soils produce more fragrant wood.

13. Dark brown or reddish brown is the colour of bark. Red lines can be seen inside the bark. In young trees, it is smooth; as the tree ages, it becomes rough with significant vertical fissures.

14. The leaves are 1.5 to 3 inches long, oblong or ovate-lancelolate sometimes, opposite, occasionally alternating, glabrous and shiny above, and glaucous below (Kulkarni, 1995).

15. Young leaves are evergreen and are a beautiful shade of green or pink (in very dry places it sheds its leaf).

16. Mature leaves can range in colour from bluish to greenish yellow (Srimathi et al., 1983). The crown might be conical, spherical, obovate, elliptic, or irregular in shape.

17. Measurement-based predictions of seed output show a favourable relationship between fruit production and crown size, particularly length (Susila et al., 1995).

Unique characteristics 

1. The smell of the wood lasts for many years.

2. The tree can tolerate some shadow and do well in the presence of bushes and hedges, but in its middle and later years, it cannot tolerate intense overhead shade.

3. When the roots are exposed, damaged, or when the tree has fallen over, root suckers are abundantly created, making the tree the most enduring since it is unaffected by the white ants or termites that decimate many types of timber plants.

4. Due to isolation, the tree’s bark occasionally becomes scorched and it cannot resist protracted drought.

5. The most accurate measurement is to keep the side cover around the plantation in place for as long as feasible. The tree is particularly flame sensitive.

Phytochemical Constituents

According to the phytochemical analysis of Indian sandalwood’s fruit, seed, bark, leaf, heartwood, and root, the plant contains both saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, essential and non-essential amino acids, minerals, sesquiterpene alcohols, sesquiterpene, and other terpenoides, flavonoids, tannins, ester, Verghese et al. 1990, Zhang et al. 2012, and ester-containing sesquiterpenes (Zhang et al. 2012). There are some particular phytoconstituents in it, including ximenynic acid (fatty acid), -santalol, and -santalol (sesquiterpene alcohols). Figure 1-3 shows some additional significant S. album components.

Aromatic and medicinal value

S. album has therapeutic use and aromatic qualities in its wood, roots, and seeds. Sandalwood oil is often produced by wood, especially heartwood, which has medicinal and fragrant characteristics. High Ramayana and Mahabharata are found in the roots. There are indications that S. album has been cultivated in India for the past 30 centuries, making India the primary and only supplier of sandalwood.

The heartwood has a cooling, bitter flavour and aphrodisiac, alexiteric, antipyretic, and antiseptic effects. It is a heart tonic that is used to treat symptoms like thirst, biliousness, burning, bronchitis, smallpox, hyperacidity, general weakness, forgetfulness, leprosy, jaundice, palpitations, etc. It also works well as a blood purifier. the fabled use of seed oil to cure skin conditions. The essential oil is applied to treat acne, prickles, itching, rashes, skin eruptions, freckles, and swelling. Sandalwood works wonders on dry skin and can also lower fevers. Sandalwood has historically been used to treat digestive issues brought on by diarrhoea, nausea, colic, and gastritis. In numerous Ayurvedic remedies, including Ahsokarishtam, Chandanadi choornam, Chandanasavum, Anutailum, and Dhanvantatam kashayam, the heartwood is employed. Almost every medical system, including Ayurveda, Folk Medicine, Homeopathy, Siddha, Tibetan, Unani, and Western, uses sandalwood.

Indian Sandalwood Tree

Sandalwood is unavoidably a premium cosmetic component. The perfume known as “liquid gold” is made from sandalwood oil. Santalum album is the most significant species of sandalwood that produces oil. A subtle but pleasant perfume emanates from sandalwood. Due to its distinctive scent and exceptional fixative properties, the oil is mostly utilized in perfumery. The tree was designated as a “Royal tree” according to an ordinance issued in 1792 by Tipu Sultan, monarch of Mysore.

Economical importance

The tree is recognized as being the most resilient because white ants, which decimate many different species of timber plants, do not harm it. It is used to create a variety of wood carvings, including Ganapathy, the elephant-headed god, the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, tiny snake boats, and elephants. However, the most significant uses are the creation of medicinal paste and sandalwood oil. Other products made from sandalwood include rosaries made from seeds, garlands made from chips, soaps, fragrances, incense sticks, powder, and many others. These products date back to the people of ancient times. the material used to manufacture jewellery boxes, deed cases, cabinets, and coffins. Rich Hindus bury a funeral pile with chunks of sandalwood. The tree’s leaves, which produce light yellow wax, are another essential component economically. The highly valued wood has minute natural markings called “bird eyes.” The lighter honey-colored shaded wood is preferred for decorative works, while the darker shaded wood is thought to be more aromatic. It has held a pivotal position in Hindu religious rituals. It was utilized by the Parsis to fuel the fire in their temples.

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