Thursday, July 31, 2008

Northern Sandalwood

 Santalum lanceolatum

This photo of developing fruits was taken this week at Franke’s scrub, in Cawdor. The small tree containing them is easy to find, as it is right beside the road. They will turn red as they grow, then ripen to succulent black in autumn.
At its foot, you will find grasses, Austrostipa species, which are important to it. Santalum species are partial root parasites, attaching themselves to the roots of other plants as a way of getting water and minerals. This grass genus is a favourite, and doesn’t seem to mind at all.
There are several Australian species of sandalwood. This one is our most common local species (and lacks the perfumed wood which makes the indonesian species Santalum album, and the West Australian Santalum spicatum valuable for the manufacture of incense and toiletries.)
While its fruits are not as highly regarded as those of the desert quandong, Santalum acuminatum, they do have a very acceptable fruits for eating straight off the tree provided they are very ripe.
Northern sandalwoods are very drought-hardy plants, and have good potential as garden ornamentals, with their weeping, blue-green foliage. They grow in frosty places, but may appreciate a little shelter from it when young.

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