Clarifying about our Sandalwood Seeds shared by our Amazing Aromatherapist Friend Andrea Butje’s aromahead.com’s Blog .. “genetically superior seeds”. Question – Have they been scientifically modified or are they naturally through years of growing “genetically superior”?
The quick answer is that no, they have not been scientifically modified but have evolved through years of trial and error to find the best seeds for the climate and other specific growing conditions in the various sandalwood growing regions of Vanuatu.
There have been various research studies undertaken by experts in the field who have come to Vanuatu and come up with the findings that the sandalwood trees growing in the wild in Vanuatu’s northern islands of Santo and Malekula are genetically superior to those grown in the southern islands of Erromango, Tanna and Aniwa (please see one such paper attached for your ease of reference – The Summit plantations are on the map marked “Moso”). Some of the trees from the northern islands that were tested were found to possess exceptional oil qualities. In fact those levels of santalols from Vanuatu’s Santalum austrocaledonicum species from the northern islands came close to those registered for Indian sandalwood (Santalum album) which is recognized as being the International Standard for sandalwood oil. Seeds were purchased from Santo and Malekula for local plantations because they were recognized as genetically superior. Growing them in a plantation i.e. domestication as opposed to in the wild, gives them the added lifestyle advantages of pruning, weed control etc. which should encourage heartwood to form early and be of a high santalol content.
What is also very interesting is that during Cyclone Pam in early 2015, a rather ferocious Category 5 cyclone which hit Vanuatu, it was found that the native species Santalum austrocaledonicum far outperformed the imported Santalum album which we were growing as a trial. The imported variety all fell over, totally decimated, while the natives withstood the winds very heroically, albeit some of them needed some staking to help them back up again.