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5/27/2014 About the Sandalwood Tree | Greenpeace India

About the Sandalwood Tree

Feature story - September 10, 2004

BANGALORE, India Sandalwood Santalum album Shiri Gandha Chandana Aninditha - Arishta Phalam - Bhadhrashraya
Sarpavasa Chandrakanta Gandhasara Thailaparna - Malayaja what names ! More than sixty are listed, each more imaginative
than the other.

The sandalwood tree can grow in almost any part of India (which is why any Indian will recognize the
fragrant wood, even though they might refer to sandalwood by one of its many aliases.) The sandalwood
tree flourishes in regions where the climate is cool with moderate rainfall, plentiful sunshine and long periods
of dry weather.

Planting your own Sandalwood Tree

The sandalwood is a root parasite so you have to provide other plants for it to grow along with, especially by
the time it is 8" high, Alternatively, when you plant the sandalwood seed, also throw in some toor dal or
butterfly seeds.

Plant the sandalwood seed " to 1" below the soil and water it lightly everyday. If you don't have access to
a strip of soil, you can plant the seed in a soil bed or a pot, or recycle a milk-bag by punching holes in it,
adding soil and turning it into a tiny planter. You can move it to a larger bag or a larger pot as required, and
gift the sapling to someone else if you run out of space.

Mix red earth, farmyard manure (cattle manure) and sand in a ratio of 2:1:1 i.e 2 parts of red earth, 1 part of
manure and 1 part of sand. Silt also provides very good nourishment to plants. The seeds will start sprouting
Sandalwood tre e only in 4 to 8 weeks so don't stop watering if you don't see results - and don't over water, because that
certainly won't hasten the process! The soil should always be moist, never water logged, so after it has
sprouted, water it only on alternate days.

Eventually, if you have no place to transfer the plant to, you can keep the sandalwood tree in a large container (cement chilla /pot/etc) in your
balcony or terrace, strip compound.

When your saplings are about one month old, transplanting them to a larger area will give them a much higher chance to survive and thrive.

Clear an area for planting and dig a pit about 30cm3 in size. Plant the sandalwood seedlings along with the host seedlings - keep a distance
of 2.5 to 4m between two sandalwood plants. Usually, sandalwood is transplanted in the months between May and October.

To prevent contamination of local varieties, plant these seeds only in urban areas, not in protected forest areas. 1/2
5/27/2014 About the Sandalwood Tree | Greenpeace India


Just like human babies, your sandalwood saplings will need most care in the first year, and will be increasingly independent in following years.
You will need to weed around the plants and work the soil for the first year, and, if necessary, in the second year too. In case the host plants
outgrow the sandalwood seedlings, tip them a little to provide enough light to the seedlings. If any climbers surround your seedling, cut and
remove them.

Ideal Soil

Sandal trees grow mainly on red ferregenuous loam, overlying metamorphic rocks, chiefly gneiss. They can tolerate shallow, rocky ground and
stony or gravelly soils, voiding saline or calcareous soils, and are not exacting about the depth of the soil.

Rich and moist soils such as well-drained alluvial soils, do not support sandalwood well; the heartwood in such trees will be deficient in oil.
Trees grown on poor soils yield better oil, though they cannot withstand water-logging.


The roots of sandalwood saplings attach themselves to the root of the host plant with the help of haustoria. There are also instances of
sandal thriving off other sandal trees too.

Sandalwood grows well with hosts such as Acacia, Albizzia, Bombusa, Cassia, Erythrina, Erythroxylon, Gossypium, Pongamia, Semecarpus,
Strychnos, Tectona, Thespesia, Vitex and Zocypus in natural forest Spike disease has been reported to be transmitted form hosts, such as
Lantana, Acanthaclous Ocimum Dedroclamus, Dodonea, Vinca and Eucalyptus.


The tree flourishes best between altitudes of 600 and 1050 m, though it may go up to 1350 m and descend as low as 360m. The important
sandal tracts lie in places where rainfall varies from 60-160cm.

In general, the sandal tree flourishes in regions where the climate is cool with moderate rainfall, plentiful sunshine and long periods of dry
weather. The ideal temperature for its growth is between 12 and 30C. 2/2