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Facts about the Sandalwood Tree - Description and Uses

Updated on December 9, 2015
Sapling of Sandalwood Tree (Santalum album)
Sapling of Sandalwood Tree (Santalum album) | Source

Sandalwood has been used in India since 4000 years ago. It was an essential ingredient in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine.

The botanical name of Sandalwood is Santalum album. Santalum album is known by many names such as White Sandalwood, Mysore Sandalwood, East Indian Sandalwood and Chandan.

The Sandalwood tree grows in abundance in Eastern India in states of Mysore, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. This tree is also being cultivated in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and North Western Australia.

The Sandalwood tree is highly valued for it's Sandalwood Oil that is extracted from the heartwood of this tree.

The Sandalwood tree can live up to a hundred years.

Description of the Sandalwood Tree

The Sandalwood tree is a parasitic evergreen tree that obtains nutrients from other plants.

The following trees are suitable hosts for the Sandalwood tree -

  • Horsetail tree
  • Whistling thorn
  • Pala Indigo
  • Indian Beech
  • Indian Rosewood

The Sandalwood tree grows up to 12 -15 meters in height. The bark of the tree is a reddish brown in color. The smooth trunk of the tree turns rough with age and develops deep vertical fissures.

The leaves are oval in shape arranged opposite to each other.They are bright green in color with leathery texture. The flowers are purple-brown without any fragrance. The Sandalwood trees grow well in dry, rocky and hilly terrain.

The Sandalwood tree is rich in Sandalwood Oil. The center of the tree trunk that is called the “heartwood” has the maximum concentration of this oil. The heartwood is dead wood that acts as a pillar of support to the tree.

The outer part of the tree trunk is called “sapwood” and is living. The primary function of the sapwood is to carry water from the roots to the other parts of the tree.


How is Sandalwood Oil Extracted?

The heartwood of the roots of the Sandalwood tree has a rich content of the aromatic essential Sandalwood oil.

Sandalwood oil is extracted using the steam distillation method. In this method, the heartwood is first powdered and then steam is passed through this powdered wood and comes out carrying the oil inside. The steam is then cooled to obtain Sandalwood oil.

The oil has to be extracted only after about 30 years especially during the rainy season. The trees are not felled but uprooted so that the roots can be used to extract the aromatic Sandalwood Oil.

Sandalwood Oil is pale yellow in color. It is rich and has a woody, sweet fragrance. The oil has a strong scent and lingers on for a long time.

Pure Sandalwood Oil
Pure Sandalwood Oil | Source

Sandalwood Oil for Aroma Therapy

Sandalwood oil has been used in Ayurveda medicines from thousands of years ago. It has a soothing, relaxing effect and is used in aromatherapy.

Sandalwood oil is used for massaging the body. Massaging with Sandalwood oil relieves stress and has a calming effect.

Medicinal Uses of Sandalwood Oil

In traditional Chinese and Indian medicine Sandalwood oil is used for curing health conditions such as digestive problems, cough, laryngitis, sore throat, nervous disorders, depression and anxiety.

The Sandalwood oil is used for skin care to cure dry, cracked or chapped skin, rashes and acne. It is suitable for all types of skins.

Use of Sandalwood Oil in Perfumes

Sandalwood Oil is largely used by the perfume industry. Sandalwood Oil acts as a base and helps to blend individual aroma of oils used in making natural perfumes also known as “Attar”.

Sandalwood Oil blends and preserves the individual smell of each essential oil used to make the perfume. It helps to merge two essential oils together without overpowering the aroma of other essential oils that are used.

Uses of Sandalwood for Spiritual Purposes

Sandalwood is used for -

  • crafting deities of God for worship
  • making incense that is burned during worship
  • constructing parts of temples

Sandalwood is also used for making meditation beads and Sandalwood paste that is used in many sacred rituals

Sandalwood Blocks and Sandalwood Powder
Sandalwood Blocks and Sandalwood Powder | Source

Sandalwood trees are being cut down in large numbers and are almost extinct in the wild. The Government of India has banned the export of Sandalwood to prevent further cutting down of these trees.

References

http://www.edenbotanicals.com/sandalwood-essential-oil.html

http://aob.oxfordjournals.org/content/79/1/59.full.pdf

http://www.flowersofindia.net/catalog/slides/Sandalwood.html

http://waynesword.palomar.edu/plnov99.htm

Deities Made Out Of Sandalwood

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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I have Sanadalwood oil and nourished the skin so beautifully but have learned more here about the wonder tree. An informative and interesting hub.Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 3 years ago from Dubai

      DDE thank you, sandalwood oil is great for the skin.

    • awordlover profile image

      awordlover 3 years ago

      This is such a pretty wood, blends with most decor. I like how your hub flowed with the way you showed your information, nice and organized.

      Voted up and interesting.

      Rachael

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      I use Sandalwood in everyday life--for worships, for face pack or perfumes etc. But the information you provided in this hub is awesome and very interesting.

      Good to see the picture of the Sandalwood tree. Thanks for sharing this wonderful hub!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina

      Vellur-thank you for sharing so many interesting facts about the Sandalwood tree, I've learned many new things. I've always loved the sandalwood fragrance, but now I am aware of how it is extracted. I enjoyed the video as well. UP/and across except for funny. Will Pinn it and share.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I don't believe it grows here, but this was interesting. I always enjoy these educational articles. Well done!

    • dearabbysmom profile image

      dearabbysmom 3 years ago from Indiana

      I use sandalwood essential oil in soaps, but had never learned about the trees. Very interesting! Voted up and interesting.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 3 years ago from Dubai

      awordlover, Rachel thank you for your appreciation and vote up.

      ChithrangadaSharan thank you for your visit.

      Denise Handlon thank you for stopping by and am glad you enjoyed. Thank you for the vote up and pin.

      billybuc thank you for your visit and yes it does grow in America.

      dearabbysmom thank you for reading and vote up.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      Love, love sandalwood--so it was wonderful to read more about it! Thank you!!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Thank you for a very informative article about the sandlewood tree and I just absolutely love that aroma. ^

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I've seen products with sandalwood oil in stores but didn't know much about the tree until I read this hub. Thanks for sharing the interesting and useful information, Vellur!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 3 years ago from California

      Sandalwood perfume and incense is all I have ever heard of using sandalwood for. Must investigate the nourishing oil.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Great article here, very useful and informative about the sandlewood tree. I learned a lot of the tree here that I did not know.

      Up and more and away.

      I hope you have a lovely weekend ahead.

      Blessings

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 3 years ago from Dubai

      Audrey Howitt thank you, sandalwood is wonderful in every way!

      Jackie Lynnley I love the aroma too and it is simply divine.

      AliciaC thank you for reading and am glad my hub was informative.

      tirelesstravler sandalwood oil is great you should check it out. Thank you for stopping by.

      Faith Reaper thank you and am glad you came to know more about this tree. Thank you for your vote and blessings. Have a great weekend.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Vellur: I love the scent of Sandalwood. I had no idea of the benefits of the sandalwood oil until reading this. This is such an interesting and informative article. I hope the tree does not become extinct. The wood is also beautiful used for carvings and in construction. Thanks for sharing your knowledge in this area.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Interesting article. Sandalwood oil is used for so many things i was unaware of. I would love to have a sandalwood plaque. Thank you for bring another educational hub...

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 3 years ago from TEXAS

      I enjoy the aroma of sandalwood and enjoy it in incense, but had no idea how versatile the tree is! Thank you for this informative and fascinating article, Vellur!

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 3 years ago from australia

      Informative article, thank you. I love sandalwood. I was introduced to it on the island of Sumba in Indonesia. It was good to have additional information.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 3 years ago from Dubai

      suzettenaples thank you, yes I really do hope that the trees do not become extinct.

      alway sexploring thank you, a sandalwood plaque will be great.

      Nellienna thank you for stopping by and yes the aroma of sandalwood is awesome.

      tramvaj thank you for stopping by, it is great to know about the amazing tree.

    • Anita lesic profile image

      Dream Lover 3 years ago from Zagreb

      interesting article about tree ;)))

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 3 years ago from Dubai

      Anita lesic thank you.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Nithya, lots of useful information on Sandalwood. Interestingly, I had a hub on sandalwood in mind as well. Let's see how it goes.

      Voted up, interesting and useful.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 3 years ago from Dubai

      rajan jolly thank you for stopping by. Thanks for the votes too, waiting to read your hub.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I remember my mother used this scent in lotions. Thanks for the background on this interesting tree.

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 3 years ago from Dubai

      teaches12345 thank you for your visit, much appreciated.

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 2 years ago from Australia

      Sandalwood is one of my ultimate favorite scents for use in aromatherapy, but sadly it is almost extinct in the wild which of course drives up the prices, but hopefully with governments such as India taking a stronger stance that may only be a temporary thing.

      great hub rich with good information

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      nighthag sadly what you say is true. Sandalwood is becoming an endangered tree and I hope this tree does not become totally extinct the way things are going. Thank you for stopping by.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 2 years ago from London, UK

      I also love the smell of sandalwood candles. Thanks

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      Lady_E thank you, they do smell wonderful!!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

      I truly love sandalwood--just thought I would revisit this great article!

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      AudreyHowitt thank you for sopping by again, much appreciated.

    • greatstuff profile image

      Mazlan 21 months ago from Malaysia

      I recently met someone who owns a sandalwood plantation and he reassured me that I can plant sandalwood tree in a big plant pots and have it in our house garden. I am a bit skeptical and your article says that the tree can grow up to 15 m. Do you know if it is possible to plant it in a pot?

    • Vellur profile image
      Author

      Nithya Venkat 21 months ago from Dubai

      greatstuff you can start to grow a sandalwood plant in a pot but eventually you have to transfer the plant to a bigger space as it grows. Thank you for stopping by.

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