sandalwood, name for several fragrant tropical woods, especially for Santalum album, an evergreen partially parasitic tree either native to India or introduced there centuries ago. It is used for joss sticks in Buddhist religious ceremonies and funeral rites, as a paste or powder by Hindus and Jains, and is made into ornamental wares. The essential oil distilled from the wood is used extensively as a fragrance and has a place in traditional medicine. Santalum species are distributed Japan, Indonesia, and Australia across the Pacific to the Hawaiian and the Juan Fernández islands. Red sandalwood obtained from a leguminous tree (Adenanthera pavonina), also native to India, was probably the almug of the Bible. It is used chiefly as the source of a dye. Sandalwood is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnaliopsida, order Santalales, family Santalaceae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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