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Santalum freycinetianum -

Common Name Lanai Sandalwood, Hawaiian Sandalwood
Family Santalaceae
USDA hardiness 9-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Exposed, open grasslands on old lava flows in the dryer regions of Hawaii at elevations of 600 metres or more[509 ]. Most often found on slopes and ridges, it can be locally common in dry, mesic, and wet forests[337 ].
Range Pacific - Hawaii.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Semi-shade Full sun
Santalum freycinetianum Lanai Sandalwood, Hawaiian Sandalwood

Santalum freycinetianum Lanai Sandalwood, Hawaiian Sandalwood
Max Antheunisse, Hawaii


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Santalum freycinetianum or Lanai Sandalwood is a flowering tree endemic to the Hawaiian Islands and grows up to 9m tall and 25-30cm in bole diameter. Like other species in the Santalum genus, it obtains water and soil nutrients from a nearby host plant. It is slow-growing; Flowering commence 3-4 years after planting. Medicinally, the plant is used against dandruff, head lice, and sexually transmitted diseases. The heartwood produces essential oil which can be used in perfumery, cosmetics, incense sticks, aromatherapy, etc.

Physical Characteristics

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Santalum freycinetianum is an evergreen Tree growing to 10 m (32ft) by 10 m (32ft) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Bees, Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


No synonyms are recorded for this name.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed
Edible Uses:

Seed - tasty[312 ]. The scarcity of seeds, and their high value for propagation, makes their use as food somewhat inappropriate[312 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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A drink made from finely ground powdered heartwood, mixed with other plants, followed by laxative was used in curing venereal diseases in both males and females[312 ]. The powdered heartwood is combined with Piper methysticum, Eugenia reinwardtiana, Bobea species and Alphitonia ponderosa[417 ]. For treating severe sores, the powdered wood is combined with the wood of Melicope hawaiensis and Bobea species, combined with Piper methysticum and the bark of Syzygium malaccense[417 ]. A shampoo made from a leaf infusion, sometimes combined with the ashes of Myoporum sandwicense, has been used for curing dandruff and eliminating head lice[312 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Cosmetic  Essential  Fuel  Hair  Incense  Parasiticide  Repellent  Soap making  Wood

Other Uses: A high quality essential oil is obtained from the heartwood. This oil was traditionally used to a limited extent to scent coconut oil (for application to the hair and body) and cultural artifacts such as tapa cloth. Today, the oil is highly valued for use in perfumery, cosmetics, incense sticks, aromatherapy etc[312 , 337 , 509 ]. A mixture of heartwood and sapwood is powdered and made into incense or joss sticks which are used in eastern religious ceremonies. Sawdust, wood shavings from carving, or wood residue after oil distillation may be used[312 ]. The yellow-brown wood is hard, heavy and fine textured[337 ]. The highest value sandalwood is used for carving religious statues and objects, handicrafts, art, and decorative furniture. Larger basal pieces and roots are preferred for carving. In Hawaii, sandalwood is sometimes used to make musical instruments such as the musical bow[312 , 337 ]. The wood has sometimes been used for fuel but does not make useful charcoal[312 ]. The wood has usually been added in small amounts to fire for its aromatic scent and as a mosquito repellent[312 ]. The wood is rarely used for traditional purposes nowadays because of its scarcity and its very high cash value. However, it has been used for making canoe paddles, carvings, cultural purposes, medicine, and was burnt as an insect repellent[312 ]. The heartwood was powdered and used to scent coconut oil, or sprinkled over new tapa cloth to perfume it and make it waterproof[312 ].

Special Uses

Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant usually of moderate elevations in the tropics, usually found between 250 and 950 metres, but it can be found down to almost sea level and up to 3,800 metres[337 ]. It grows naturally in areas where the mean annual rainfall is in the range 500 - 3,800mm and there is a pronounced dry season of 2 - 5 months[312 , 337 ]. Prefers a position with moderate side shade, but little overhead shade; it grows poorly in deeper shade, but can do well in full sun if attached to a suitable host[312 ]. Tolerant of a range of soil conditions, including infertile and shallow soils, but grows best in a light to medium, well-drained soil[312 ]. The plant grows in the wild on a range of volcanic soils, but does not become established on poorly drained sites[337 ]. Prefers a neutral to slightly alkaline soil with a pH 6.1 - 7.4, but can tolerate 4 - 7.4[312 ]. Established plants are able to survive a long dry season (up to 5 - 6 months) when attached parasitically to suitably drought_tolerant host plants[312 ]. Although the tree has become much less common in its native habitat due to the ravages of introduced grazing animals and rats, the tree does actually have the potential to become invasive, spreading by seeds and root suckers. However, this has not been seen as a problem in the past, mainly due to the high value of the wood and the ease with which they can be shaded out by taller trees[312 ]. A slow-growing species, showing annual height increases of 30 - 70cm a year when young. Growth is faster in fertile soils but the tree is then at risk of being shaded out or overtopped by taller, faster growing trees on such sites[312 ]. Under good conditions, plants begin flowering from an early age, typically about 3 - 4 years, but heavy flowering and fruiting may take 7 - 10 years[312 ]. Trees can flower and produce fruit throughout the year, usually with two peaks. The flowers produce a weak fragrance[312 ]. Trees produce root suckers, especially if cut down, when a ring of suckers will often appear several metres away from the original stump[312 ]. A semi-parasitic plant, obtaining some of its nutriment from the roots of other plants[144 ]. The plant has green leaves containing chlorophyll, and is thus able to photosynthesize - it relies on host plants only for water and soil nutrients, not for sugars, which it can produce itself [343 ]. In a natural situation, the plant seems to rely on nitrogen fixing trees such as Acacia and Casuarina, though it is known to parasitize many other legumes, shrubs, herbs and grasses[343 ]. It normally has more than one host at a time[343 ]. In the field, seedlings should be planted near potential host plants[337 ]. Seedlings are generally planted within existing vegetation near potentially suitable hosts; the best host may be Acacia koa[337 ]. Success is generally good, especially in locations where seedlings can be watered occasionally and weed competition is controlled[337 ]. Periodic trimming of the secondary host may benefit seedlings[337 ]. Flowering Time: Mid Spring Late Spring/Early Summer Mid Summer. Bloom Color: Red. Spacing: 15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m) 20-30 ft. (6-9 m) 30-40 ft. (9-12 m) over 40 ft. (12 m).

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - because untreated seeds may take from several months to well over 1 year to germinate, seed pre-treatment is recommended[337 ]. Pre-soaking in water for 3 - 5 days helps; however, complete removal of the seedcoat, soaking for 8 to 12 hours in 0.05 to 0.1 percent gibberellic acid, manual scarification followed by soaking in water, or acid scarification are reportedly more effective[337 ]. Full light has been shown to enhance germination of S. Album, but no information on the light requirements of S. Freycinetianum is available[337 ]. Seed should be sowed in a sterile media such as vermiculite, well-drained potting mix, or sterilized sand-soil mixture. The optimal temperature for germination of some sandalwoods appears to be about 25°c, and one effective technique involves bottom-heating germination beds to maintain the temperature at this optimal level[337 ]. Seedlings should be kept in partial shade (30 - 50 percent). When they reach the four-leaf stage, they can be transplanted into containers and a primary host plant may also be transplanted into the pot. Potential host plants include native Hawaiian species such as Acacia koa, A. Koaia, or Dodonaea viscosa, or non-native species such as Leucaena luecocephala[337 ]. Seedlings reach adequate size for planting out about 8 - 9 months after transplanting[337 ]. Seeds can be stored in a dry, cool location or dried to approximately 8 per cent moisture content and refrigerated at about 5 °c. Sandalwoods can be successfully stored under refrigeration for several years[337 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

United States, Hawaii, Pacific.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Endangered B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii)

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Santalum spicatumWest Australian SandalwoodShrub4.0 10-12 SLMHSND224
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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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