4 Types of Chandan Trees in India | Sandalwood Varieties

Last Updated: 11.03.2024
Dhruvdeep Singh
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If you want to know about how many Types of Chandan Tree are there in India, you are at the right place! Let’s know in detail!

Sandalwood tree, which is popular as Chandan in India is quite popular, thanks to its fragrant wood. In this article, we will have a look at the best Types of Chandan Trees that you can grow!

Learn how to grow Paradise Tree here

Chandan Tree (Sandalwood): A Comprehensive Guide

Sandalwood, scientifically known as Santalum, is a genus of plants highly regarded for their aromatic heartwood. The Chandan Tree has been part of human culture and trade for thousands of years. Here’s an in-depth look at the tree, its origin, history, and other pertinent details.

1. Geographical Origin

Chandan Tree is native to India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and some other parts of Southeast Asia. Different species thrive in various climates, ranging from tropical to temperate.

2. Current Distribution

Today, Chandan Tree is found in India, Australia, Hawaii, and several Pacific Islands, along with parts of Africa. Over time, cultivation methods have spread the growth of this precious tree to new regions.

3. Ancient Usage

Sandalwood’s history dates back over 4,000 years, where it was used in religious rituals, Ayurvedic medicine, and even embalming. It has a significant role in various cultures, especially in Hinduism and Buddhism.

4. Physical Characteristics

Chandan Trees are small to medium-sized, reaching 13 to 33 feet in height. The bark is thin and grey, while the inner heartwood is highly aromatic. The leaves are generally lance-shaped, and the tree produces small flowers.

5. Aromatic Properties

The essential oil extracted from the heartwood has a rich, woody scent. It’s a common ingredient in perfumes, incense, and various cosmetic products.

Chandan Trees have faced over-harvesting in some regions, leading to a decrease in wild populations. Efforts are being made to sustainably farm the trees and implement regulations to protect the species.

Significance of Chandan Tree in India

The Chandan Tree holds a unique place in the cultural, spiritual, and economic landscape of India. Let’s explore its significance in various aspects:

1. Spiritual and Religious Significance:

  • Sacred Symbol: Chandan Wood paste, obtained by rubbing the wood on a stone with water, is used to mark religious symbols on the forehead by Hindus. Different sects have specific markings, but they all use Chandan as a base.
  • Ritualistic Use: Chandan Wood is also used in various religious ceremonies, including pujas (worship rituals), where it’s offered to deities.
  • Meditation and Spirituality: Due to its calming effect, Chandan Wood is also used to aid meditation. Its fragrance is believed to help in calming the mind and facilitating spiritual experiences.

2. Medicinal Value:

  • Ayurveda: Chandan Wood has been extensively used in Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine. It’s valued for its cooling properties and is used in treating various skin conditions, digestive issues, and mental disorders.
  • Aromatic: Chandan Wood oil is often used in aromatherapy for its calming and therapeutic properties.

3. Economic Significance:

  • Trade: Sandalwood and its oil have been major trade commodities for India for centuries. Its high demand in perfumeries, cosmetics, and therapeutic products make it a valuable export.
  • Handicrafts: Chandan Wood is carved into intricate handicrafts, including idols, jewelry boxes, and decorative items. The city of Mysore, in particular, is famous for its sandalwood carvings.

4. Cosmetic Use:

  • Perfumes: The essential oil of Chandan Wood is a key ingredient in many luxury perfumes because of its distinct and long-lasting fragrance.
  • Skin Care: Sandalwood paste is believed to have skin-enhancing properties, making it a popular ingredient in various skincare products.

5. Cultural Significance:

  • Folklore and Traditions: Stories and songs that mention the fragrance of Chandan Tree are common in Indian folklore, symbolizing purity, love, and devotion.
  • Cultural Events: During festivals and cultural events, Chandan Wood paste is applied to idols, musical instruments, and sometimes even to the pillars of temples, signifying sanctity and reverence.

6. Environmental Significance:

As a tree, the Chandan Wood helps in maintaining the ecological balance. However, due to its high value, illegal felling and smuggling have led to a decrease in its population, which is a concern for the environment and biodiversity.

Because of these multifaceted uses and significance, overharvesting and smuggling of Chandan Tree, especially the red sandalwood, have been major issues. To counteract this, the Indian government has set up stringent regulations to protect and cultivate these trees.

Chandan Tree Types in India

Chandan wood is the second most expensive in the world and sells for an excellent price. Thus, the commercial production of it can be very fruitful. However, you cannot grow Chandan Tree individually, and you need to have the state government’s permission to cut the tree and sell the wood.  There are many types of chandan in India. The following section shall discuss them in detail.

1. Indian Chandan

Types of Chandan

Botanical Name: Santalum album

The most famous source of Chandan Wood, this small tropical tree is native to south India. It can grow up to 13- 20 feet in height and holds various medicinal properties.

The essential oil of this Chandan Tree sells for high prices. Besides, it is also an important part of Indian culture and can live up to 100 years. The tree, however, comes under protection, as over-exploitation is leading to their extinction.

2. Red Chandan

Botanical Name: Pterocarpus santalinus

Also famous as Rakta chandan, it is another variety native to the Eastern ghats of Southern India. The tree is quite famous for its wood, which has a unique and vibrant red color. However, the beautiful looking wood of this tree is not fragrant. It is relatively small and can grow up to 20-25 feet tall.

Red Chandan is also famous for its traditional medicinal uses, such as in the treatment of dysentery, bleeding, as an anti-inflammatory and antipyretic.

3. Swet Chandan

Types of Chandan 2

Botanical Name: Santalum album L

It is also an evergreen tree with a plethora of medicinal benefits. Both the wood and oil extracts hold medicinal values. This type of Chandan Tree can be useful in the treatment of bronchitis, fever, common cold, headaches, and urinary tract infections.

The essential oil from this tree is popular in the making of soaps, perfumes, and cosmetics. The oil also has uses in the food industries as well.

4. Malayagiri Chandan

Botanical Name: Santalum

An evergreen tree, Malayagiri Chandan, can grow up to 20-30 feet high. It is native to Mysore, Coorg, Hyderabad, Nilgiri, and Western ghats of South India. Although there are many varieties of Chandan, Malayagiri Chandan or Shrikhand is the sweetest and real of them all!

This Chandan Tree has a beige-white color wood with an enchanting fragrance. The wood of these trees has uses in the making of beautiful boxes and stools.

Popular Chandan Trees Around the World

Here are some of the most renowned types of Chandan Tree and their varieties:

1. Indian Chandan Tree (Santalum album):

  • This species is native to southern India and parts of Southeast Asia.
  • It is considered to produce the finest quality of heartwood with the most aromatic scent.
  • Santalum album has been overharvested in the wild, leading to its listing as a threatened species, so most of the sandalwood from this species is now plantation-grown.

2. Australian Chandan Tree (Santalum spicatum):

  • As the name suggests, this species is native to Australia.
  • While its scent is slightly different from the Indian variety, it’s a commercially significant source of sandalwood and its essential oils.
  • It’s considered more sustainable than Indian sandalwood due to better conservation and plantation practices in Australia.

3. Hawaiian Chandan Tree (Santalum paniculatum, Santalum ellipticum, and other species):

  • These species are native to Hawaii.
  • Hawaiian sandalwood was heavily harvested in the 18th and 19th centuries and was nearly driven to extinction. Efforts are ongoing to conserve and restore these species.

4. Fijian Chandan Tree (Santalum yasi):

  • This species is native to Fiji and other parts of the Pacific.
  • Fijian sandalwood has a distinct aroma and is traditionally used in various cultural practices in the Pacific region.

5. New Caledonian Chandan Tree (Santalum austrocaledonicum):

  • Found in New Caledonia, this species has become more prominent in recent years due to its aromatic properties which are similar to those of Indian sandalwood.
  • It’s used in perfumery and aromatherapy.

6. Tongan Chandan Tree (Santalum yasi):

  • This is the same species as Fijian sandalwood but grown in Tonga.
  • Historically, Tongan sandalwood was a significant export, though the trade has declined.

7. Marquesan Chandan Tree (Santalum insulare):

  • This variety is native to the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia.
  • It has been over-harvested in the past, leading to conservation concerns.

Each of these Chandan Tree species and varieties has its unique aroma and characteristics. However, when purchasing sandalwood or its products, it’s crucial to ensure that it’s sourced sustainably to protect these precious trees from over-exploitation.

Health Benefits and Uses of Chandan Wood

Sandalwood, renowned for its aromatic fragrance and versatile applications, has also been a vital part of traditional medicine for centuries. Its unique compounds impart numerous health benefits that have now been recognized by modern science as well. Below, we will explore the health benefits and uses of sandalwood, both in the form of wood and essential oil.

1. Anti-Inflammatory Properties

  • Use: Sandalwood oil contains compounds that act as anti-inflammatory agents.
  • Benefit: Helps in treating conditions like arthritis, inflammation of the skin, and mild irritations.

2. Antiseptic Qualities

  • Use: Applied topically, sandalwood oil has potent antiseptic properties.
  • Benefit: Prevents infections and aids in wound healing.

3. Skin Health

  • Use: A popular ingredient in skincare products.
  • Benefit: Assists in treating acne, reducing scars, and hydrating dry skin.

4. Mental Well-being

  • Use: Employed in aromatherapy for its calming and relaxing effect.
  • Benefit: Reduces stress, anxiety, and promotes mental clarity.

5. Digestive Health

  • Use: Utilized in traditional medicine for treating digestive issues.
  • Benefit: Helps in relieving gas, indigestion, and bloating.

6. Respiratory Relief

  • Use: Acts as a natural expectorant.
  • Benefit: Assists in easing coughs, bronchitis, and other respiratory ailments.

7. Anti-Aging

  • Use: An ingredient in anti-aging products.
  • Benefit: Enhances skin elasticity, reducing fine lines and wrinkles.

8. Control of Blood Pressure

  • Use: Used in some traditional medical practices to help regulate blood pressure.
  • Benefit: Contributes to cardiovascular health.

Practical Uses and Applications of Chandan Wood

  • Found in creams, lotions, and serums for nourishing the skin.
  • Used as an essential oil for relaxation and mental focus.
  • Incorporated into treatments for skin conditions and respiratory issues.
  • Utilized in remedies for a variety of health concerns, from digestive problems to skin ailments.
  • Applying sandalwood paste improves concentration and helps you stay alert.
  • The topical application of sandalwood oil provides relief from anxiety.
  • Sandalwood paste and oil promotes better healing of wounds and minor scars.

Chandan Tree – FAQs

1. What is the Chandan Tree?

  • Chandan Tree refers to the Sandalwood tree, native to India, known for its aromatic heartwood and numerous uses in traditional medicine and cosmetics.

2. Where is Chandan Tree mainly found in India?

  • Chandan Tree is primarily found in the southern states of India, including Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh.

3. Is it legal to grow Chandan Tree in India?

  • Yes, it is legal to grow Chandan Trees in India. However, regulations and permissions must be followed, as the tree is considered a valuable resource.

4. What are the benefits of Chandan Tree?

  • Chandan offers various health benefits such as anti-inflammatory properties, skin health improvement, mental well-being, and respiratory relief.

5. Can I harvest Chandan Tree on my property?

  • Harvesting Chandan requires adherence to specific legal procedures and permissions from the government. Unauthorized harvesting is illegal.

6. How long does it take for a Chandan Tree to mature?

  • A Chandan Tree typically takes 15 to 20 years to mature and produce the valuable heartwood.

7. What is the market price for Chandan wood in India?

  • The market price varies depending on quality, age, and region. It is best to consult with local forestry or trade authorities for current pricing.

8. What is the status of Chandan Tree conservation in India?

  • Conservation efforts are in place to protect wild Chandan Trees, and sustainable cultivation practices are being promoted.

9. How is Chandan used in Ayurveda?

  • In Ayurveda, Chandan is used for its cooling properties, to treat skin ailments, digestive issues, and promote overall well-being.

10. Can I use Chandan oil for skincare?

  • Yes, Chandan oil is widely used in skincare for its moisturizing and healing properties.

11. Is Chandan Tree endangered in India?

  • Certain species of Chandan have faced threats due to over-harvesting. Conservation efforts are underway to protect these species.

12. What are the common pests affecting Chandan Trees?

  • Chandan Trees are prone to attacks by sandalwood spike disease, borers, and other insects.

13. Can Chandan Trees be grown from seeds?

  • Yes, Chandan Trees can be propagated from seeds, although it requires specific care and conditions to thrive.

14. What are the religious significances of Chandan in India?

  • Chandan holds a sacred place in Hinduism and is used in various rituals and ceremonies for its purity and calming effects.

15. Are there any government incentives for Chandan Tree cultivation?

  • The Indian government and several state governments have initiated incentives and support for sustainable Chandan Tree cultivation. Specific details can be obtained from local agricultural departments.

4 thoughts on “4 Types of Chandan Trees in India | Sandalwood Varieties”

  1. Indian sandalwood and swet sandalwood plant looks same so how to identify by seeing and among them which one is grown commercially

  2. I often read the term “Yellow Sandalwood” (in context to incense or perfumery), but I never found an explanation what exactly it is. Does somebody here know?


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