Though similar in terms of their chemical constituents, essential oils from Australian Sandalwood and its Indian counterpart are not quite exactly the same, particularly in terms of their aroma and constituent levels. The base notes of these two oils are nearly completely identical, and are still remarkably alike in their middle notes. The difference between Australian Sandalwood oil and East Indian Sandalwood oil can be found most prominently in the top notes. Australian Sandalwood oil has a resinous, drier top note that is not quite as sweet as the scent of East Indian Sandalwood oil. Regardless of their differences, both essential oils are highly valued in aromatherapy applications.
Australian Sandalwood, often just called Sandalwood, is a small slow-growing evergreen tree of genus Santalum native to semi-arid areas of southern and western Australia. It is semi-parasitic, which means it uses the roots of a host plant for nutrients when it is young, and causes the host to die as it grows. The essential oil is found in the heartwood. No essential oil is present in the tree until the heartwood develops - a process that starts when the tree is around 20 years of age and continues until maturity (around 50 years of age, depending on climate and species). Essential oil varies in quality and quantity based on the species of Sandalwood, age at harvest, growth rate and conditions of growth. As a rule, the slower the growth (and the more stressed the tree) and the older the tree is at harvest, the more oil is available in the heartwood.