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sandalwood

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 and is made into ornamental wares. Oil distilled from the wood is used extensively as a perfume and has a place in medicine. About 19 species of Santalum are distributed over the Hawaiian and other Pacific 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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