Santalum album L.

Last updated: 11 May 2016

Scientific Name

Santalum album L.  


Sirium myrtifolium L. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Chendana [2]
English East Indian sandalwood, sandalwood, sandal tree, true sandalwood, white sandalwood, white aldalwood, yellow sandalwood [2]
China Chan tan, chen tan, tan hsiang, tan xiang [2]
India Agaru-gandha, ananditam, bhadra, shree, candanam, chanden, gandashrh, miniak, sandanamaram, soma yoni, sreegandha, srikhanda, suket, sweta chandana, taliaparnam [2]
Indonesia Ai nitu, cendana, hau meni, tjendana [2]
Thailand Chantana [2]
Tibet Suru tsan-dan, tsan-dan dkarpo, tsen den karpo [2]
Myanmar San-ta-ku [3].

Geographical Distributions

Santalum album is probably native to the Outer Banda arc of islands in South-Eastern Indonesia. The distribution then extends from Bondowoso District in East Java eastwards to Timor, Sulawesi and the Moluccas and as far as Northern Australia. It also has been suggested that the plant is native to southern India, but it is more often assumed that it was introduced into India about 2000 years ago. It was naturalized in India from Uttar Pradesh to southern Karnataka and to south-western Andhra Pradesh. [3]

S. album was introduced into several other tropical countries such as Mascarene Islands, where it also naturalized, China (Guangdong), Sri Lanka and Taiwan. It is commercially cultivated in India, Indonesia, China and Australia and it has been tried in Southern Africa and several Pacific islands. [3]

Botanical Description

S. album is a member of the family Santalaceae. It is a small, evergreen, semi-parasitic, spineless, and glabrous tree that can grow up to 20 m tall and with a girth of over 1.5 m. It is occasionally shrubby and sometimes scandent, up to 4 m tall; trunk terete, bark coarse, greyish-brown to reddish-brown; lower branches sometimes drooping; branchlets slightly angular-striate. [3]

The leaves are opposite or decussate with thin, 2-ribbed, 5-15 mm long, and yellowish petiole. The blade is lanceolate-elliptical or oblong, measures 2.5-8 cm x 1.5-4 cm, base obtuse, cuneate or acute, margins undulate, flat or slightly recurved, apex acuminate, slightly discolorous, pale green above, glaucous beneath, with 6-10 pairs of secondary veins, and reticulate venation evident. [3]

The inflorescence is 2-5 cm long, terminal or axillary panicle or raceme connected with 4-20 mm long peduncle with caduceus bracts and the pedicel usually very short but up to 3 mm long. The flowers are bisexual, 4(-5)-merous, perianth-tube campanulate, about 2 mm long, 4-lobed, lobes triangular-ovate, initially yellowish, turning brownish-red, with a hair tuft behind the stamens, with 4 nectaries, on the middle of the perianth tube, and alternating with the disk lobes. It have 4 stamens as long as hair tufts with prominently 4-lobed disk, lobes erect-recurved, fleshy, 1.2-1.5 mm long, alternating with stamens, orange-brown at first, turning blackish-red. The pistil with superior to half-inferior ovary, short style and small, and has slightly 3-lobed stigma. [3]

The fruit is an ellipsoidal, 1-seeded drupe, about 1 cm long, with small apical collar. The exocarp is blue to blackish-red, mesocarp succulent or firm, and has smooth endocarp. [3]

The seed is without testa. The seedling with epigeal germination. [3]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

S. album has been reported to contain sesquiterpenes, sesquiterpenols (e.g. α-santalols and β-santalols), aldehydes (e.g. teresantalal). [4][5]

Plant Part Used


Traditional Use

In therapeutic aromatherapy S. album oil is used as single oil and sometimes in formulations. It is also used as incense [6]. The fragrant wood is used in cosmetics, perfumery and in flavourings. The oil is very scarce and expensive [7].

Preclinical Data


Chemopreventative activity

An animal study found that S. album essential oil decreased papillomas in mice, therefore warranting further study in skin cancer [8]. Other studies have shown similar chemopreventative results [9][10][11] including in UVB-induce skin cancer in mice [12].

Larvicidal activity

S. album  essential oil was effective against mosquito larvicides. [13]


Although there is limited data on toxicity, this oil is considered safe at a dose of 0.0074 mg/kg orally as a flavoring agent. [14]

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

Antianxiety activity

In a palliative setting, patients were massaged with S. album essential oil, sweet almond oil or sandalwood using an aromastone. Because the study had such a small number of participants, a definitive conclusion could not be drawn; however the researchers did state that the study supported the indication of the relaxing effects of sandalwood oil. [15]

S. album oil or alpha-santalol (a chemical component of sandalwood) was applied transdermally in healthy humans. Certain physiological parameters were measured such as blood oxygen saturation and blood pressure, and mental and emotional parameters were measured using a rating scale. The results showed that alpha-santalol had the most benefit in physiological changes acting as a relaxant [16]. Similar results have been shown using the inhalation process [17].


No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation.


Some dermal irritations have been reported. [18][19]

Case Report

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Santalum album L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 26; cited 2016 May 11]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume V R-Z. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 150-151.
  3. Yusuf R. Santalum album L. In: Oyen LPA, Nguyen Xuan Dung, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 19: Essential-oil plants. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 1999; p. 161-167.
  4. Jones CG, Keeling CI, Ghisalberti EL, Barbour EL, Plummer JA, Bohlmann J. Isolation of cDNAs and functional characterisation of two multi-product terpene synthase enzymes from sandalwood, Santalum album L. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2008;477(1):121-130.
  5. Jones CG, Ghisalberti EL, Plummer JA, Barbour EL. Quantitative co-occurrence of sesquiterpenes; a tool for elucidating their biosynthesis in Indian sandalwood, Santalum album. Phytochemistry. 2006;67(22):2463-2468.
  6. Sugiyama S. Aromatic trees and herbs that connect Heaven and earth. Yakushigaku Zasshi. 2007;42(2):122-130. Japanese.
  7. Brocke C, Eh M, Finke A. Recent developments in the chemistry of sandalwood odorants. Chem Biodivers. 2008;5(6):1000-1010.
  8. Dwivedi C, Abu-Ghazaleh A. Chemopreventive effects of sandalwood oil on skin papillomas in mice. Eur J Cancer Prev. 1997;6(4):399-401.
  9. Dwivedi C, Guan X, Harmsen WL, et al . Chemopreventive effects of alpha-santalol on skin tumor development in CD-1 and SENCAR mice. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2003;12(2):151-156.
  10. Dwivedi C, Zhang Y. Sandalwood oil prevent skin tumour development in CD1 mice. Eur J Cancer Prev. 1999;8(5):449-455.
  11. Banerjee S, Ecavade A, Rao AR. Modulatory influence of sandalwood oil on mouse hepatic glutathione S-transferase activity and acid soluble sulphydryl level. Cancer Lett. 1993;68(2-3):105-109.
  12. Arasada BL, Bommareddy A, Zhang X, Bremmon K, Dwivedi C. Effects of alpha-santalol on proapoptotic caspases and p53 expression in UVB irradiated mouse skin. Anticancer Res. 2008;28(1A):129-132.
  13. Zhu J, Zeng X, O'Neal M, et al. Mosquito larvicidal activity of botanical-based mosquito repellents. J Am Mosq Control Assoc. 2008;24(1):161-168.
  14. Burdocka GA, Carabin IG. Safety assessment of sandalwood oil (Santalum album L.). Food Chem Toxicol. 2008;46(2):421-432.
  15. Kyle G. Evaluating the effectiveness of aromatherapy in reducing levels of anxiety in palliative care patients: results of a pilot study. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2006;12(2):148-155.
  16. Hongratanaworakit T, Heuberger E, Buchbauer G. Evaluation of the effects of East Indian sandalwood oil and alpha-santalol on humans after transdermal absorption. Planta Med. 2004;70(1):3-7.
  17. Heuberger E, Hongratanaworakit T, Buchbauer G. East Indian Sandalwood and alpha-santalol odor increase physiological and self-rated arousal in humans. Planta Med. 2006;72(9):792-800.
  18. An S, Lee AY, Lee CH, et al. Fragrance contact dermatitis in Korea: A joint study. Contact Dermatitis. 2005;53(6):320-323.
  19. Larsen W, Nakayama H, Fischer T, et al. Fragrance contact dermatitis: A worldwide multicenter investigation (Part I). Am J Contact Dermat. 1996;7(2):77-83.