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Any semiparasitic plant of the genus Santalum (family Santalaceae; the sandalwood family), or its wood, especially the wood of the true, or white, sandalwood, Santalum album, which is used in making furniture and from which oil used in making perfumes, soaps, candles, and incense is derived. The approximately 10 species of Santalum are distributed throughout South Asia and the islands of the South Pacific. The sandalwood family contains more than 400 species of semiparasitic shrubs, herbs, and trees in about 36 genera, found in tropical and temperate regions. In some genera the leaves are reduced to scalelike structures. The green leaves contain some chlorophyll, which allows the plants to make food, but all sandalwoods are parasites to a certain extent, obtaining water and nutrients from their hosts. Most, including S. album, are root parasites, but some are stem parasites.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on sandalwood, visit Britannica.com.