Sandalwood, any semiparasitic plant of the species Santalum, especially the fragrant grove of natural or white sandalwood, Santalum album.
Santalum, which has about ten species, is found throughout Southeast Asia and the South Pacific islands. A real sandalwood tree can reach a height of about 10 meters (33 feet),
has leathery fronds that arise in both facing different branches, and are partially parasitic on the roots of other tree species. Both the tree and the seeds contain a yellow aromatic oil known as sandalwood oil, the odor of which lingers for years in white sapwood products such as ornamental boxes, furniture, and fans.
The oil is extracted from the wood through steam distillation and is used in perfumes, soaps, candles, incense, and traditional remedies.
In addition, sandalwood powder is used in the paste used to make Brahman caste marks and in sachets to fragrance garments. Although India has long been recognized for its sandalwood (Santalum album), farmers have only recently expressed an interest in growing the plant in their backyard.
As a result, sandalwood was mainly restricted to the woods of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, as well as state-run plantations, until the year 2000. In the rest of the country, there was no agriculture on private agricultural property. However, in 2001 and 2002, policy changes in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu permitted people to produce sandalwood.
This sparked interest in other states. India was formerly a world leader in the manufacturing of sandalwood. It had over 4,000 tonnes of sandalwood in the 1960s. This is substantial given the international demand—6,000-7,000 tonnes per year (see ‘Global Sandalwood Supply at Risk,’ p24). However, smuggling became widespread because of the high market value and direction for the timber. As a result, sandalwood woods were gradually devastated as a result of theft.