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Santalum austrocaledonicum - Vieill.

Common Name Pacific Sandalwood
Family Santalaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Open, dry forests and woodland communities[312 ]. Usually found in secondary forest formations[312 ].
Range Pacific - New Caledonia and Vanuatu.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Santalum austrocaledonicum Pacific Sandalwood

Denis.prévôt wikimedia.org
Santalum austrocaledonicum Pacific Sandalwood
Denis.prévôt wikimedia.org


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Santalum austrocaledonicum, known as Pacific Sandalwood or Sandalwood, is a slow-growing shrub or small tree growing up to 12m in height. Its crown is spreading and its bole is short, crooked, and about 40-50cm in diameter. It is a hemiparasitic plant, obtaining some water and soil nutrients from host plants nearby. It is cultivated throughout the Pacific for its heartwood and as an ornamental. No plant part is edible but it has medicinal uses. In particular, decoction of this plant, when mixed with the leaves of Homolanthus, can be used to treat elephantiasis or lymphatic filariasis. Further, it is a pioneer species. The heartwood yields high-quality essential oil which is used in perfumery, cosmetics, incense, and religious ceremonies. The wood is rarely used as a timber.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Santalum austrocaledonicum 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.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


This name is unresolved.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

None known

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.

A decoction of sandalwood, combined with Homolanthus leaves, is taken to treat elephantiasis or lymphatic filariasis[312 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Cosmetic  Essential  Incense  Pioneer  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: A pioneer species, spreading freely into grassland etc by means of bird-sown seeds[312 ]. Other Uses An essential oil is extracted from the heartwood. A high quality oil, it is used for cosmetics and perfumery, incense, and religious ceremonies[312 ]. The grated wood is traditionally used to scent coconut oil[312 ]. The heartwood is yellow and scented. The wood is fine-grained and durable[46. It has been used for making boxes, carvings and small fancy articles[46 , 312 ]. The wood is rarely used as a timber because of its high value as a source of an essential oil[312 ].

Special Uses

Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

The plant grows naturally in warm to hot lowland areas in the tropics at elevations up to 800 metres, but usually below 300 metres[312 ]. It prefers a mean annual temperature in the range 23 - 27°c[312 ]. It is found in areas where the mean annual rainfall is in the range 1,250 - 1,750mm (though it can tolerate 800 - 2,500mm), and there is a distinct dry season of 3 - 5 months[312 ]. Requires a position in full sun or bright shade[312 ]. Requires a light to medium, well-drained soil[312 ]. Prefers a wwell-drainedneutral to slightly alkaline soil. Tolerates poor, shallow soils[312 ]. It grows more quickly in fertile soils but is then more at risk of being shaded out by taller, faster-growing trees[312 ]. Prefers a circumneutral soil with a pH of pH 6.1 - 7.4, but can tolerate 4 - 7.4[312 ]. The plant has a capacity for invasiveness in disturbed places, but this is rarely considered a problem[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 nnitrogen-fixingtrees 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 ]. Acacia spirorbis makes a good long-term host plant under both natural conditions and in plantations. For ultramafic soils, other good nitrogen-fixing host species are Casuarina collina and Gymnostoma deplancheana[312 ]. A fairly slow-growing plant, increasing in height by about 30 - 70cm per year[312 ]. Under good conditions plants begin fruiting from an early age, typically about 3 - 4 years, but heavy fruiting may take 7 - 10 years[312 ]. The species can produce substantial quantities of its valuable heartwood on a rotation of about 25 - 40 years[312 ]. Plants generally respond well to coppicing[312 ]. Plants are capable of producing root suckers - following harvesting, clumps of suckers may regenerate in a circular pattern several meters away from the original stump[312 ]. Because sandalwood is hemiparasitic and requires one or more host plants, intercropping is not only possible, but necessary[312 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - germinates best when scarified. It is best sown fresh when the viability is high, with 80 - 90% of the seed germinating after 2 - 3 months[312 ]. Sow the seed in a covered nursery seedbed - it germinates best at a temperature of 28 - 31°c[312 ]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they have 2 - 4 leaves[312 ]. Acacia species, Calliandra calothyrsus, and Casuarina spp. May be used as hosts for the young plants in pots, but Calliandra needs frequent cutting back to prevent it from overtopping the sandalwood[312 ]. Plant out into permanent positions when 20 - 25cm tall, approx 5 - 6 months after germination[312 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

new caldedonia sandalwood

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

New Caledonia; Vanuatu

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.

The plant has a capacity for invasiveness in disturbed places, but this is rarely considered a problem[312 ].

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Santalum acuminatumQuandongShrub0.0 -  LMHSNM112
Santalum ellipticumCoast SandalwoodTree5.0 9-12 SLMSND124
Santalum freycinetianumLanai Sandalwood, Hawaiian SandalwoodTree10.0 9-12 SLMSND124
Santalum haleakalaeHaleakala Sandalwood, LliahiTree3.0 9-12 SLMSND124
Santalum lanceolatum Shrub0.0 -  LMHSNM112
Santalum murrayanum Tree0.0 -  LMHSNM10 
Santalum paniculatumMountain Sandalwood, Hawaiian Sandalwood, 'IliahiTree7.5 10-11 SLMSND124
Santalum spicatumWest Australian SandalwoodShrub4.0 10-12 SLMHSND224
Santalum yasiYasi, Fijian Sandalwood, Brown SandalwoodTree10.0 9-12 SLMNDM024

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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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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