Research Updates, Santalum|

Six geographically separate sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) tree families were established together in a trial near Narrogin, Western Australia to compare oil content and tree size variation at ages 10 and 18 years. The trial site contained a total of 300 sandalwood trees with 41–55 trees from each family. All 300 sandalwood trees were measured for tree size: height, stem diameter and bole length. Wood core samples (heartwood + sapwood) were also taken at 300 mm above the ground from 71 to 72 separate trees, at ages 10 and 18 years. Each wood core sample was ground separately and then a sub-sample was analysed for oil concentration, and α– and β-santalol concentration within the oil.

The mean extractable oil concentrations within the sandalwood stems at 300 mm above the ground were significantly greater from the Borden and Dumbleyung families (1.1–1.6%) than the Ravensthorpe family (0.5–0.8%), at both ages 10 and 18 years. However, the oil quality (mean concentration of α– and β-santalol) was not significantly different between the six families at ages 10 or 18 years. Instead, oil quality was highly variable within each family.

Between sandalwood ages 10 and 18 years, the overall mean extractable oil concentration from the six different families increased significantly from 0.8 to 1.3%. During the same time period, mean α-santalol concentration increased significantly from 8.6 to 13.8%, and mean β-santalol concentration also increased significantly from 3.3 to 4.5%.

Mean tree height, stem diameter and bole length varied significantly between the six families at age 18 years. The Borden family appeared to be more tree-like in form, with a significantly longer bole length, than some of the other families which were more shrub-like in appearance.

Brand, J. and L. Norris (2017). “Variation in oil content and tree size between six geographically separate Santalum spicatum families, established near Narrogin, Western Australia.” Australian Forestry: 1-5.

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