Santalum freycinetianum

Santalum freycinetianum, the forest sandalwood,[2] Freycinet sandalwood, or ʻIliahi, is a species of flowering tree in the European mistletoe family, Santalaceae, that is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. Its binomial name commemorates Henri Louis Claude de Saulces de Freycinet, a 19th-century French explorer.[3] ʻIliahi inhabits dry, coastal mesic, mixed mesic, and wet forests on Oʻahu, Kauaʻi, Lānaʻi, Maui, and Molokaʻi at elevations of 250–950 m (820–3,120 ft). It grows in areas that receive 500–3,800 mm (20–150 in) of annual rainfall. Like other members of its genus, ʻiliahi is a root hemi-parasite, deriving some of its nutrients from the host plant; common hosts include koa (Acacia koa), koaiʻa (Acacia koaia), and ʻaʻaliʻi (Dodonaea viscosa).[4]

Santalum freycinetianum
Starr 030222-0079 Santalum freycinetianum var. lanaiense.jpg
S. freycinetianum var. lanaiense

Vulnerable (NatureServe)
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Santalales
Family: Santalaceae
Genus: Santalum
S. freycinetianum
Binomial name
Santalum freycinetianum

S. f. var. freycinetianum
S. f. var. lanaiense
S. f. var. pyrularium


  • Santalum freycinetianum var. freycinetianum (Molokaʻi and Oʻahu)[5]
  • Santalum freycinetianum var. lanaiense Rock – Lānaʻi Sandalwood (Lānaʻi and Maui)
  • Santalum freycinetianum var. pyrularium (A.Gray) Stemmerm. – Kauaʻi Sandalwood (Kauaʻi)[3]



The ʻlaʻau ʻala (heartwood) of ʻiliahi contains valuable, aromatic essential oils. Native Hawaiians used the wood to make pola, the deck on a waʻa kaulua (double-hulled canoe). Powdered ʻlaʻau ʻala was used as a perfume and added to kapa cloth.[6] Between 1791–1840, trees were intensively harvested for export to China, where the hard, yellowish-brown wood was made into carved objects, chests, and incense. The ʻiliahi trade peaked from 1815 to 1826, and stopped when no large trees were left.[7]


Native Hawaiians combined leaves and bark of the ʻiliahi with naio (Myoporum sandwicense) ashes to treat kepia o ke poʻo (dandruff) and liha o ka lauoho (head lice). ʻIliahi shavings mixed with ʻawa (Piper methysticum), nioi (Eugenia reinwardtiana), ʻahakea (Bobea spp.), and kauila (Alphitonia ponderosa) was used to treat sexually transmitted diseases.[7]


  1. ^ "Santalum freycinetianum". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2011-03-07.
  2. ^ USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Santalum freycinetianum". The PLANTS Database ( Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b Little Jr., Elbert L.; Roger G. Skolmen (1989). "ʻIliahi, Freycinet sandalwood" (PDF). Common Forest Trees of Hawaii (Native and Introduced). United States Forest Service.
  4. ^ Allen, James A. (2003-01-01). "Santalum freycinetianum Gaudich". Tropical Tree Seed Manual. Reforestation, Nurseries & Genetics Resources. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 24, 2011. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
  5. ^ "Santalum freycinetianum var. freycinetianum". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2011-03-07.
  6. ^ Medeiros, A. C.; C.F. Davenport; C.G. Chimera (1998). "Auwahi: Ethnobotany of a Hawaiian Dryland Forest" (PDF). Cooperative National Park Resources Studies Unit, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ a b "iliahi". Hawaiian Ethnobotany Online Database. Bernice P. Bishop Museum. Retrieved 2009-03-03.

External linksEdit