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Santalum spicatum - (R.Br.) A.DC.

Common Name West Australian Sandalwood
Family Santalaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Occurs in a wide range of forest types from woodland to low open-woodlands[303 ]. Loamy soils and among rocks in woodland and tall shrubland[310 ]. Red sandy soils, among rocks[285 ].
Range Australia - Western Australia.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Semi-shade Full sun
Santalum spicatum West Australian Sandalwood

Santalum spicatum West Australian Sandalwood


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Santalum spicatum commonly known as West Australian Sandalwood grows about 8m in height in the Western part of Australia. It has a crooked bole with rough, grey bark and stiff spreading branches. The flowers are small, green and red, carrion-scented, and in panicles. The fruits are green but turn brown. The essential oil from the wood is used medicinally against urinary tract infection. The fruits and pods are edible. The tree is harvested, mainly from the wild, for its valuable wood, which is the source of an essential oil. Propagation can be through seeds but mechanical scarification is required to increase the rate of seed germination.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Santalum spicatum is an evergreen Shrub growing to 4 m (13ft) by 4 m (13ft) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) 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 and saline 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


Eucarya spicata (R.Br.) Sprague & Summerh Fusanus spicatus R.Br.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Oil  Seedpod
Edible Uses: Oil

The fruits and pods are gathered from the wild and eaten as food[303 ]. Seed kernels of sandalwood may be eaten and have formed a valuable part of the traditional Aboriginal Australian diet[303 ]. The kernels contain 45 - 55% oil, which is characterized by a high percentage of unusual acetylenic fatty acids[303 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

The essential oil obtained from the wood is used medicinally, particularly as a disinfectant for the urinary tract[310 ]. The oil contains several medically active substances including fusanols, santalol and sesquiterpene alcohols[46 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Cosmetic  Essential  Fuel  Incense  Oil  Soap making  Soil conditioner

Agroforestry Uses: The ground under the canopy of this tree is usually littered with seeds and leaves these on decay replenish soil nutrients[303 ]. Because of its deep rooting habit, this tree could offer shade or support services yet compete minimally with other crop. However caution should be taken on account of its parasitic attributes[303 ]. Other Uses: The seed contains 45 - 55% oil, comprising about 49% oleic acid and about 40% ximenynic acid[303 ]. An essential oil, known as West Australian sandalwood oil, can be obtained by water or steam distillation of the wood[310 ].. This is a pale yellow viscous liquid with a soft woody, somewhat balsamic sweetness; its top note is rather dry-bitter and slightly resinous; its main constituent is santalol[310 ]. The oil is valuable in perfumery just like East Indian sandalwood oil[310 ]. The wood is used in China as a temple incense[46 ]. The heartwood is dark brown, and is surrounded by a pale coloured sapwood[303 ]. It used to be extensively cut and exported as sandalwood. It can be used for wood carving, incense making and for the extraction of the essential oil[310 ]. At present it is only harvested in small quantities[310 ]. The wood is an excellent fuel and has been used for firing brick kilns[303 ].

Special Uses

Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of drier, lowland areas in the tropics and subtropics, where it is found at elevations from sea level to 500 metres[303 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 32° - 38°c, but can tolerate 7 - 45°c[418 ]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -4°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at 0°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range of 200 - 400mm, but tolerates 150 - 500mm[418 ]. Prefers a sunny position, but can tolerate some shade[303 ]. Succeeds on a variety of soils from calcareous red earth to red earthy sands in Western Australia to solonized brown soils and shallow calcareous loamy soils in South Australia[303 ]. Tolerates soil salinity[303 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 6.5, tolerating 5 - 7[418 ]. Requires a well-drained soil[303 ]. Established plants are drought tolerant[418 ]. The plant is partially parasitic and relies on host plants for only water and soil nutrients, not for sugars, which is why it has green leaves and photosynthesizes[343 ]. Sandalwood trees are a root parasite of many species[303 ]. Some commonly recognized hosts are Eucalyptus salubris, Eucalyptus loxophleba, Casuarina cristata subsp. Pauper, Acacia aneura, Atriplex vesicaria, Pittosporum phillyreoides, Acacia acuminata, Senna siamea and Pongamia pinnata[303 ]. It normally has more than one host at a time[343 ]. Flowering is sporadic because of the irregular rainfall in most areas where the plant grows. Flowers are carrion-scented and nectariferous, attracting a wide range of insect pollinators[303 ]. Plants do not usually survive fires in the wild[303 ]. The estimated maturation time for the sandalwood in Kalgoorlie District, Australia is 50 - 100 years[303 ]. Sandalwood is harvested by uprooting trees from the ground[303 ]. The roots, stems and large branches are all utilized down to 2.5 cm diameter, dead sandalwood stems are also used[303 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - mechanical scarification improves germination rates[303 ]. In the wild, the seed germinates after extremes in temperature and rainfall[303 ]. Field studies indicate that only 1 - 5% of the seeds germinate[303 ]. The rate of germination is higher in reserves and protected research and plantation areas, but is still less than 20%[303 ]. The establishment of the plant on an operational and plantation scale can be achieved by sowing 4 seeds per spot in well-drained sites, 50 - 70 mm below the soil and mulching in a small depression at the drip line of the south side of a suitable host plant[303 ]. The seedlings tend to die if their roots fail to attach to suitable hosts. The deaths therefore may be due to the inability to obtain some type of element for which the host is essential or the inability to take up sufficient nutrients to maintain growth[303 ]. Cuttings.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

australian sandalwood, bois de santal d'australie, oil of australian sandalwood, western australian sandalwood.


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 : This taxon has not yet been assessed

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Santalum paniculatumMountain Sandalwood, Hawaiian Sandalwood, 'IliahiTree7.5 10-11 SLMSND124
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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.


Expert comment


(R.Br.) A.DC.

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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