Over a dozen species of sandalwood exist, and most of them are sources of essential oil. The International Organization for Standardization has guidelines only for Santalum album from India and Santalum spicatum from Australia. The former, which produces more oil, was overharvested almost to extinction. In 1998, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature listed it as vulnerable, severely restricting harvesting and export. The sandalwood tree must grow for 40 to 80 years before the roots can be harvested for the oil. Australian and Hawaiian plantations are the current source of most sandalwood oil used in pharmaceutical applications. However, the Indian variety is considered to be of superior quality and purity.
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