Frequently Asked Questions
+ Are there different types of Sandalwood?
Of the 15 different species of sandalwood that grow throughout the world, there are 2 main varieties that are traded internationally. These are Santalum spicatum (Australian sandalwood) and Santalum album (Indian sandalwood). Australian sandalwood currently supplies well over half of all sandalwood traded around the globe annually. Australian sandalwood has historically been used in the agabati and incense markets in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and other Asian countries. It has been widely accepted in these areas for over 150 years. In recent years Australian sandalwood oil has been incorporated into many high end perfumes and other cosmetic products. Australian sandalwood does produce a lower oil content when compared to Indian sandalwood although it consistently produces the oil forming heartwood from a young age. Australian plantation sandalwood has been tried and tested in plantations throughout Western Australia for over 25 years by both private and Government organisations.
+ What is the difference between Australian & Indian Sandalwood?
Whilst the two main commercial species of sandalwood grown in plantations both belong to the Santalum genus they differ in plant physiology, production techniques, markets and applications. Some of the main points of difference include:
Geographical Zone & Natural Distribution
Australian Sandalwood: Native to Australia, it is the only desert species that grows in low rainfall areas without irrigation. Commercial produced in the Wheatbelt of Western Australia. Exported from Australia since 1840s and was once Western Australia’s largest export earner.
Indian Sandalwood: A tropical tree native to India that is commercially produced under irrigation in India, Northern Australia, China, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Australian Sandalwood: Primary harvested and sold in log form graded for heartwood content. Australian sandalwood is unique in the fact that the white sapwood does not require removal prior to oil distillation. Logs are primarily processed for either essential oil or as wood powders for incense. WA Sandalwood currently exports to Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
Indian Sandalwood: Primarily harvested for oil extraction, Indian Sandalwood logs require the addition step of removing sapwood prior to distillation as the sapwood impacts the oil.
Value of the Oil
Australian Sandalwood: Oil currently sells for around $1,500 per kg. The lower production and processing costs enables Santalum spicatum oil to be used in several applications and products targeting the emerging Asian middle class.
Indian Sandalwood: Oil currently sells for around $2,500 per kg with the price primarily driven by the alpha santanol content.
+ Where else is Sandalwood being grown?
Western Australia currently has the largest sandalwood plantation resource in the world. Australian sandalwood is being grown in commercial plantations throughout the Wheatbelt of Western Australia, and Indian sandalwood in the tropical far north of Australia. There are however some small plantations of Indian sandalwood being grown in India, China, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines and the Pacific Islands.
+ How much oil does one tree produce?
Oil yield in sandalwood trees varies between species and age. The oil is present only within the heartwood of the tree. There is a correlation between the tree age and presence of heartwood. On average, Australian sandalwood produces between 3 to 3.5% oil and Indian sandalwood between 3.5 to 5% oil within the heartwood of each species.
+ When can products first start to be harvested?
In regards to the wood itself, Australian sandalwood can be harvested as thinnings between yeasr 7 and 10 although the quality of the wood is low due to the small amount of heartwood. As Australian sandalwood starts heartwood formation at approximately year 5. Commercially, Australian plantation sandalwood is harvested between the age of 15 to 20 years. Australian sandalwood also produces a valuable nut (seed) from the age of 4 years. Some 5 year old trees have produced between 3 and 5 kgs per tree.
+ Why does Sandalwood need a host tree?
Sandalwood trees are root hemi-parasites and require host trees for healthy growth. The host trees provide extra water and nutrients to the sandalwood delivered by a unique root connection called haustoria. The two trees form a symbiotic relationship throughout the life of the sandalwood tree. The best host species are the nitrogen-fixing plants, especially the wattles (Acacias) which are also native to Western Australia.
+ What happens to the host tree? Is there a market / use for it as well?
Although there is no defined market for the host trees, there are possibilities for uses such as furniture timber, firewood or they may be left in the ground for revegetation purposes or carbon credits.
+ When is the Sandalwood Nut produced and what is it used for?
Australian sandalwood trees start producing nuts from 4 years of age. Historically the main market is to supply nuts to the sandalwood plantation industry for seed. The nut also has great potential within the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries as it has many unique properties within the kernel itself. Currently oil is extracted from the kernal with demonstrated ethicacy and is an active ingredient in numerous skin care products. For further information please visit www.sanoytal.com
+ Do you clear the land and / or fence it?
It is our company policy to source land that has been previously cleared for farming many years ago. We do not remove any existing remanent vegetation and all properties are fenced to keep out unwanted vermin.
+ Impact to local wildlife?
The impact on wildlife within our plantations is positive. Australian sandalwood and the host trees are not only native to Western Australia, but also native to the local areas that we plant in. Because of this our plantations attract native fauna and provide shelter for native birds and other native animals.