Commercial Timbers

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H. G. Richter and M. J. Dallwitz

Pterocarpus santalinus L. (Red sanders)

Nomenclature etc. FABACEAE-FABOIDEAE. Trade and local names: Rotes Sandelholz (DE); sandal rouge (FR); red sanders (GB, trade); sandalo rosso (IT); chandaman, panaka (IN). Listed in CITES Annex II.

Tree. Geographic distribution: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.

General. Heartwood basically red to yellow brown to red to purple brown to yellow, with streaks. Sapwood colour distinct from heartwood colour. Odour indistinct or absent. Density 0.58–0.65–0.73 g/cm³. Heartwood bright orange brown, darkening to very dark brown or black upon exposure..

Vessels. Wood diffuse-porous. Vessels in multiples, commonly short (2–3 vessels) radial rows. Two distinct vessel diameter classes absent. Average tangential vessel diameter 115–230–295 µm. Average number of vessels/mm² 1–2. Perforation plates simple. Intervessel pits alternate, average diameter (vertical) (8–)9–12(–13) µm, vestured. Vessel-ray pits with distinct borders or with reduced borders or apparently simple, similar to intervessel pits, rounded or angular. Other deposits in heartwood vessels present (orange brown).

Tracheids and fibres. Fibres of medium wall thickness. Average fibre length 1035–1380–1660 µm. Fibre pits mainly restricted to radial walls, simple to minutely bordered. Fibres non-septate.

Axial parenchyma. Axial parenchyma banded. Axial parenchyma bands not marginal (or seemingly marginal). Axial parenchyma apotracheal and paratracheal. Apotracheal axial parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates (short tangential lines without contact to vessels). Paratracheal axial parenchyma aliform and confluent. Aliform parenchyma winged. Axial parenchyma fusiform and as strands. Average number of cells per axial parenchyma strand 2.

Rays. Rays 12–17 per tangential mm, exclusively uniseriate. Height of large rays up to 500 µm. Rays composed of a single cell type (homocellular); homocellular ray cells procumbent.

Storied structures. Storied structure present, all rays storied, axial parenchyma storied, vessel elements storied, fibres storied.

Secretory structures. Intercellular canals absent.

Mineral inclusions. Crystals present, prismatic, located in axial parenchyma cells. Crystal-containing axial parenchyma cells chambered. Number of crystals per cell or chamber one. Crystal containing cells of normal size, or enlarged (idioblasts). Silica not observed.

Physical and chemical tests. Heartwood not fluorescent. Water extract fluorescent (light blue); basically colourless to brown or shade of brown (light orange brown). Ethanol extract fluorescent (bright orange). Water extract fluorescing light blue, ethanol extract bright orange.

Illustrations. • Macro image. Transverse. Pterocarpus santalinus. • Transverse section. Pterocarpus santalinus. • Tangential section. Pterocarpus santalinus. • Radial section. Pterocarpus santalinus.


The interactive key allows access to the character list, illustrations, full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting specified attributes, summaries of attributes within groups of taxa, and geographical distribution.

Cite this publication as: ‘Richter, H.G., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2000 onwards. Commercial timbers: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. In English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. Version: 25th June 2009. http://delta-intkey.com’.

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