Nestled among the tropical Eastern Ghats trailing along India's southern coast, a hidden gem is found. Pterocarpus santalinus, or Red Sandalwood, is a small exotic tree known for its striking, highly prized red pigmented wood used in hardwood furniture. During the dry season small, vivid yellow flowers crown bright green clusters of leaves, alluring the giant honey bee that is native to southeast Asia.
This tree thrives in sunny conditions, and is not frost tolerant. Illegal harvesting poses the greatest threat to Pterocarpus santalinus, which has lead this species to sadly fall victim to over exploitation, and is now endangered.
1. Historically famous in China, especially during the Qing Dynasty and is known as 紫檀, ('zitan')
2. Used in rituals by Hindu priests
3. The extracted dye from the wood is used in cosmetics
4. Mixed with sapan wood in India, and acts as a dye for silk, cotton and wool