How to plant sandalwood tree in India

Indian sandalwood farms are located in Mysore, Maharashtra Kerala etc and are worldwide popular due to originality. To start Sandalwood tree cultivation in India no permission is required from the government. The fact is that permission is only required during harvesting and selling the Chandan to out-of-the-country and foreign companies.

This blog gives information about one of the most expensive tree plantations, sandalwood host plant list and sandalwood selling price in India.

How to plant sandalwood tree in India

The Indian sandalwood tree is technically known as the Santalum album and is one of the most expensive woods on the earth. It is very expensive because of its oil content, and cosmetic and therapeutic value.

It has a huge International value for its fragrant heartwood price of over Rs 10,000 per kg. This tree needs very little water for irrigation purposes but at the same time, the host tree may need a good amount of water depending on its nature.

They are semi-parasitic and the roots of a tree gather nutrients from the roots of nearby grass and shrubs so don’t clear the ground around the tree. Saplings should be planted in well-drained soil and need water frugally every third day. However, you can reduce the volume of water as the years go on.

Usually, these trees start flowering after 7 years and the tree trunk starts developing fragrant heartwood after 8 to 10 years. It simply means the snake on Sandalwood is just a rumour so don’t believe it. It was a trick adopted by previous people to get rid of the theft of precious wood.  

Growing sandalwood in USA, India or globally is quite easy; they can grow in most places in the world. It needs good sunlight to grow vertically and reaches a height of 30 feet with 7 to 12 inches in diameter. You can grow this plant in a small space as well but there should be extra space for the host plant as well. 

Fruiting happens throughout the year and these fruits attract tiny birds like parrots and cuckoos. 

Sandalwood tree plantation and host plants

It is a parasitic plant meaning a species of trees that depends on other living trees for its nutritional requirements. Therefore host plants are required in Sandalwood cultivation. These fragrance tree will derive their nutritional requirements (food) from host plants so be aware while choosing the host plants.

You have to plant 2 host plants with 1 sandalwood plant, it is a recommended ratio for better growth due to sufficient nutrition supply. However, if you have a lesser land then you may also plant 1:1 meaning 1 Chandan tree and 1 host plant.

Number of host plants for sandalwood trees

  • 1 sandalwood and 2 host plants (Recommended). 
  • 1 sandal wood and 1 host plant (good).
  • 2 sandalwood and 1 host plant (average).

List of host plants for sandalwood in India

The neem tree, Gooseberry, Babool, Jambolan tree, Agastya tree, Malabar neem or Melia Dubai tree

You should be very clear and specific while choosing the host plants. Hosts are responsible for the food supply (nutrition) to the main plants. 

Avoid these crops as hosts – Rice, Sugarcane, Grain, Citrus, Keenu, Orange 

Chandan tree information

Sandalwood tree means “wood for burning incense” and is related to shining glowing (chandrah). It is derived from Sanskrit Chandan (candana-m), in English, it arrived via Late Greek, Medieval Latin and Old French in the 14th or 15th century. 

The current Sandalwood tree price is approximately Rs 15000 per kg and the sandalwood tree price after 15 years may be between Rs 30,000 to 45,000. It has been one of the most expensive woods in the world for centuries. Both the wood and the oil produce a distinctive fragrance that has been highly valued throughout the world for decades.

It is a medium-sized hemiparasitic tree. Hemiparasitic is a parasitic plant that is dependent on other living trees for food. Meaning it derives almost all of its nutritional requirements from another living plant. They make up nearly 1% of angiosperms and are found in almost every biome. The tree has a modified root called haustoria which penetrates the host plant.

Chandan wood is heavy, yellow and fine-grained, unlike other aromatic woods. Its wood is capable of retaining its fragrance for decades.

Is growing sandalwood illegal or not

Growing sandalwood by individuals was banned until 2002. However, today an individual can grow the trees but it is not allowed to export the wood. The permision is required for harvesting the wood from the state forest department, selling it to local markets is allowed. The department sends its officials for verification.

You cannot export this costly wood out of India and can not sell it to foreign companies or organisations, you need permission from the forest department to sell it. One can sell it in the Indian market without permission.

Sandalwood legal in India is a tricky concept which you have to understand. Sandalwood harvesting in India, Pakistan and Nepal is government-owned and their harvest is controlled by the government.

However, many trees are cut down illegally and people who perform this illegal activity are always on the radar of the investigating team. Remember growing sandalwood in India is not illegal but before growing this plant you should approach the forest department of your state to ensure whether sandalwood is legal to harvest or not and they will guide you accordingly.

Hence, growing sandalwood in India in most states is not illegal but harvesting needs permission.

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Sandalwood tree price after 10 years to 15 years

Sandalwood tree price mainly depends on the heartwood oil content of the tree. Usually, a 10-year-old tree contains 6 to 8 or 10 kg of heartwood. Moreover, 15 to 20-year-old trees contain 10 to 24 kg of heartwood. The current price of sandalwood tree in India is between Rs 15,000 to 20,000 and the sandalwood tree price after 15 years will increase and might go above Rs 30,000 per kg.

How many sandalwood trees per acre

Host plants are needed in Chandan farming. One can install 300 main plants and 600 host plants on one acre of land. It means for 1 main plant you need 2 host plants. However, you can also use 1 host plant for 1 chandan tree if you don’t have good space but for best results, 2 hosts with 1 sandal is recommended.

Where does Australian Sandalwood grow

Australian sandalwoods (Santalum spicatum) and Indian sandalwoods (Santalum album) are found in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia, Hawaii and other Pacific Islands. 

Harvesting time

Sandalwood can be harvested after 15 years for benefits. However, the idle maturing age is 30 years.

What is red Sanders trees

Red Sanders trees are Sandalwood trees. Pterocarpus santalinus is commonly known as red sanders, red saunders, red sandalwood, Raktchandana, saunderswood and Yerra chandanam.

It is a species of Pterocarpus endemic grown in the Southern Eastern Ghats mountain range of South India. Sanders tree is highly valued for the rich red colour of this species. Red sander is primarily used for commercial oil production in India.

Red Sanders found in which type of forest 

Red sandals are native to the Seshachalam, Veliganda, Lankamala and Palakonda hill ranges. Indian sandalwood farms are found in districts of Kadapa, Chittoor, Kurnool (Rayalaseema), Nellore and Prakasam in Andhra Pradesh, Mysore (Karnataka), Marayoor forest Kerala, Southern India (high quality).

Apart from India Indian sandalwood is grown in Western Australia on a large scale.

Types of sandalwood

  • Indian sandalwood – Santalum album.
  • Australian sandalwood – Santalum spicatum.
  • West Indian sandalwood – Amyris balsamifera.
  • Best sandalwood for commercial oil production – Red sanders.

How sandalwood oil is extracted

Its essential oil has great demand in the international market due to its aromatic and health booster properties. Sandalwood oil is extracted from the woods. The oil is obtained from the steam distillation process in this process distillation of chips and billets cut from the heartwood of various species. Trees mainly santalum album and santalum spicatum are picked for the oil distillation process.

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