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Useful Tropical Plants

Santalum ellipticum

Gaudich.

Santalaceae

+ Synonyms

Common Name:

Santalum ellipticum
Plants growing in native habitat
Photograph by: Forest and Kim Starr
Creative Commons License
Santalum ellipticum Santalum ellipticum Santalum ellipticum Santalum ellipticum Santalum ellipticum Santalum ellipticum Santalum ellipticum

General Information

Santalum ellipticum is a sprawling, evergreen shrub or a tree, usually with several main stems and somewhat bushy. It usually grows 1 - 5 metres tall, but can become larger in sheltered moist situations, with specimens up to 12 metres recorded The crown is generally about half as wide as the tree is tall, the bole can be up to 30cm in diameter[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
]. A root hemi-parasite, it obtains water and nutrients from host plants growing close by and does not grow well in the absence of a host[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
].
This tree, like several other species of sandalwood tree, produces a highly valued aromatic wood and essential oil. Both the wood and the essential oil are traded internationally[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
].The tree also has a number of traditional uses, as a medicine and food as well as a source of wood. An attractive tree, it is sometimes grown in home gardens and as an ornamental in Hawaii[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
In the Hawaiian Islands, during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the aromatic lower trunks and rootstock of native Sandalwood species were harvested in great quantity and shipped to China, where they were used to make incense, fine furniture, and other desirable products. The trees were harvested almost to extinction. This extensive and often exploitative sandalwood trade in Hawaii was an early economic activity that adversely affected both the natural environment and the human population. Indeed, this activity represented an early shift from a subsistence to a commercial economy in Hawaii that was to have far­reaching and long­lasting effects in the islands[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References


Range

Pacific - Hawaii.

Habitat

Usually near the ocean shore; less often inland in dry gulches, on slopes or ridges, and frequently in rocky habitats; arid shrub land and forest, often persisting in areas invaded by non­native species; at elevations up to 560 metres[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
],

Properties

Weed PotentialYes
Edibility Rating *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Tree
Height5.00 m
Growth RateSlow
PollinatorsBees, Insects
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

Santalum ellipticum is a plant of arid lowland habitats in the Hawaiian Islands, growing at elevations up to 560 metres, exceptionally to 960 metres. It grows in frost-free areas; the mean annual rainfall can range from 50 - 1,300mm, usually with a dry season of 2 - 5 months and often with a summer drought[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
].
Prefers a position with moderate side shade, but little overhead shade; it grows poorly in deeper shade, but can do well in full sun if attached to a suitable host[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
]. Tolerant of a range of soil conditions, including infertile and shallow soils, but grows best in a light to medium, well-drained soil[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
]. Prefers a neutral to slightly alkaline soil with a pH 6.1 - 7.4, but can tolerate 4 - 7.4[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
]. Established plants are able to survive a long dry season (up to 5 - 6 months) when attached parasitically to suitably drought­tolerant host plants[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
]. Tolerant of strong, salt-laden winds[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
].
Although the tree has become much less common in its native habitat due to the ravages of introduced grazing animals and rats, the tree does actually have the potential to become invasive, spreading by seeds and root suckers. However, this has not been seen as a problem in the past, mainly due to the high value of the wood and the ease with which they can be shaded out by taller trees[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
].
A slow-growing species, showing annual height increases of 30 - 70cm a year when young. Growth is faster in fertile soils but the tree is then at risk of being shaded out or overtopped by taller, faster growing trees on such sites[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
].
Under good conditions, plants begin flowering from an early age, typically about 3 - 4 years, but heavy flowering and
fruiting may take 7 - 10 years[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
].
Trees can flower and produce fruit throughout the year, usually with two peaks. The flowers produce a strong fragrance[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
].
Trees produce root suckers, especially if cut down, when a ring of suckers will often appear several metres away from the original stump[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
].
A semi-parasitic plant, obtaining some of its nutriment from the roots of other plants[
144
Title
Wild Food in Australia.
Publication
 
Author
Cribb. A. B. and J. W.
Publisher
Fontana
Year
1976
ISBN
0-00-634436-4
Description
A very good pocket guide.
]. The plant has green leaves containing chlorophyll, and is thus able to photosynthesize - it relies on host plants only for water and soil nutrients, not for sugars, which it can produce itself[
343
Title
Growing Native Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A series of articles giving details of cultivation and matters of general interest (including a few plant uses) on over 250 Australian plants.
]. It normally has more than one host at a time[
343
Title
Growing Native Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A series of articles giving details of cultivation and matters of general interest (including a few plant uses) on over 250 Australian plants.
]. The species is flexible in the plants it can use as a host, being found in association with species such as Wikstroemia sandwicensis, Pritchardia remota, Chenopodium oahuense, Chamaesyce hypericifolia, and various introduced grass species[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
].
In the field, seedlings should be planted near potential host plants[
337
Title
Tropical Tree Seed Manual
Publication
 
Author
Vosso. J. Editor.
Website
http://www.rngr.net/Publications/ttsm
Publisher
USDA Forest Service.
Year
2002
ISBN
 
Description
An extremely good guide, it can also be downloaded in its entirety from the address shown above.
]. Seedlings are generally planted within existing vegetation near potentially suitable hosts[
337
Title
Tropical Tree Seed Manual
Publication
 
Author
Vosso. J. Editor.
Website
http://www.rngr.net/Publications/ttsm
Publisher
USDA Forest Service.
Year
2002
ISBN
 
Description
An extremely good guide, it can also be downloaded in its entirety from the address shown above.
]. Success is generally good, especially in locations where seedlings can be watered occasionally and weed competition is controlled[
337
Title
Tropical Tree Seed Manual
Publication
 
Author
Vosso. J. Editor.
Website
http://www.rngr.net/Publications/ttsm
Publisher
USDA Forest Service.
Year
2002
ISBN
 
Description
An extremely good guide, it can also be downloaded in its entirety from the address shown above.
].
Periodic trimming of the secondary host may benefit seedlings[
337
Title
Tropical Tree Seed Manual
Publication
 
Author
Vosso. J. Editor.
Website
http://www.rngr.net/Publications/ttsm
Publisher
USDA Forest Service.
Year
2002
ISBN
 
Description
An extremely good guide, it can also be downloaded in its entirety from the address shown above.
].

Edible Uses

Seed - tasty[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
]. The scarcity of seeds, and their high value for propagation, makes their use as food somewhat inappropriate[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
].

Medicinal

A drink made from finely ground powdered heartwood, mixed with other plants, followed by laxative was used in curing venereal diseases in both males and females[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
]. The powdered heartwood is combined with Piper methysticum, Eugenia reinwardtiana, Bobea species and Alphitonia ponderosa[
417
Title
Hawaiian Ethnobotany Online Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www2.bishopmuseum.org/ethnobotanydb/index.asp
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Brief details on over 100 species of Hawaiian plants.
].
For treating severe sores, the powdered wood is combined with the wood of Melicope hawaiensis and Bobea species, combined with Piper methysticum and the bark of Syzygium malaccense[
417
Title
Hawaiian Ethnobotany Online Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www2.bishopmuseum.org/ethnobotanydb/index.asp
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Brief details on over 100 species of Hawaiian plants.
].

A shampoo made from a leaf infusion, sometimes combined with the ashes of Myoporum sandwicense, has been used for curing dandruff and eliminating head lice[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
].

Other Uses

A high quality essential oil is obtained from the heartwood. This oil was traditionally used to a limited extent to scent coconut oil (for application to the hair and body) and cultural artifacts such as tapa cloth. Today, the oil is highly valued for use in perfumery, cosmetics, incense sticks, aromatherapy etc[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
].

A mixture of heartwood and sapwood is powdered and made into incense or joss sticks which are used in eastern religious ceremonies. Sawdust, wood shavings from carving, or wood residue after oil distillation may be used[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
].

The highest value sandalwood is used for carving religious statues and objects, handicrafts, art, and decorative furniture. Larger basal pieces and roots are preferred for carving. In Hawaii, sandalwood is sometimes used to make musical instruments such as the musical bow (‘ūkēkē)[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
].
The wood has sometimes been used for fuel, but does not make a useful charcoal[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
]. The wood has usually been added in small amounts to a fire for its aromatic scent and as a mosquito repellent[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
].
The wood is rarely used for traditional purposes nowadays because of its scarcity and its very high cash value. However, it has been used for making canoe paddles, carvings, cultural purposes, medicine, and was burnt as an insect repellent[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
]. The heartwood was powdered and used to scent coconut oil, or sprinkled over new tapa cloth to perfume it and make it waterproof[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
].

Propagation

Seed - it has a fairly short viability and so is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a shady position in trays in a nursery. The optimum temperature for germination is between 28 - 31°c[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
]. Making a small nick in the seedcoat, without damaging the embryo, can help to speed up germination rates. Germination rates can vary, with up to 90% of seeds sprouting within three weeks when sown fresh and treated with a nick. Prick out the seedlings into individual containers when large enough to handle, perhaps placing a host plant in the pot at the same time. Gradually increase light levels as the plant grows until it is compatible with the plant's intended destination. Plant out when around 20 - 25cm tall[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
].
Container-grown plants need to be planted out close to a host tree by the time they are 6 months old[
312
Title
Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands
Publication
 
Author
Elevitch. Craig. R. (Editor)
Publisher
Permanent Agriculture Resources, Hawaii
Year
2006
ISBN
0970254458
Description
Beautifully produced book with superb photos and detailed information on over 50 species of useful plants of the Pacific Islands.
].

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