Nature Notes
Red Sanders

What is Red Sanders?

Red Sanders is a tree or timber obtained from a tree which belongs to the species Pterocarpus santalinus. Red Sanders is also known as red sandalwood but it is not related to true sandalwood.
The bright red heartwood is extremely hard but when carved gives a smooth finish. Exquisitely carved furniture made from Red Sanders graced the homes of aristocrats in China and West Asia in ancient times when the wood was reserved for royalty. Even today there is a great demand for the wood in China and Japan where it is used for making musical instruments. In Europe, the heartwood is used as a source of red dye.
The tree is slow to mature and only grows in a few parts of Asia.

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In India, it is found mainly in Andhra Pradesh and in pockets in adjoining Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. As demand for the wood far outstrips supply the tree has been declared an endangered species to prevent it from being chopped into extinction. However, illegal felling and smuggling is rampant as the timber fetches enormous prices abroad.

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