Sandalwood is a slow-growing wood with a rich, complex scent. Indigenous to Southeast Asia, Sandalwood is one of the most expensive woods in the world. It has a long history of use in the spiritual practices of both the East and West. Sandalwood is labor-intensive to propagate, as it requires both a host tree and adequate sunlight to nourish itself. Sandalwood trees can take up to 80 years to reach full maturity. The concentration of scent in the heartwood increases as the tree ages. Trees that are planted today will not reach their aromatic peak for two generations.
There are three species of Sandalwood that are commonly harvested for their perfume. Satalum album (“True,” “White” or “Yellow Sandalwood”) is found only in India, and is endangered. “Chandan” and “Mysore” are other names for Indian Sandalwood. As stock declined, producers switched to Santalum spicatum, found in Australia. In recent years, suppliers have ramped up cultivation of (Santalum paniculatum), a white-flowered type that grows in Hawaii. The fragrance profile varies depending on the plant: Indian Sandalwood is softer and smoother than the earthy, spicy fragrance of the other varieties.
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