Red sandalwood, red sanders (Pterocarpus santalinus), is a small tree native to the southern part of the Indian Peninsula, being found at Canara, Mysore, and the Coromandel Coast. It is also found in the Southern Philippines. The wood is obtained chiefly from plantations in the forests of the Kurnool Hills and adjacent localities neighboring to Madras. The beginning of the use of the wood of this tree for temples and other primitive religious buildings is lost in antiquity. Marco Polo (518) refers to the fact that sandalwood was imported into China, distinguishing this variety by the word red. Garcia de Orta (480), of Goa, in the sixteenth century, distinguishes between the fragrant sandalwood of Timor and the inodorous red sandalwood. In this connection it should be remembered that Santalum rubrum, or red sanders, has none of the qualities of the Santalum album, or fragrant sandalwood. And yet it is recorded that all the languages of India call it by the name red-colored sandalwood. In the Middle ages it was used in Europe for coloring purposes, being quoted in England, 1326 and 1399, at three shillings per pound, and it was entered on the accounts of the Monastery of Durham, 1530, along with spices and groceries. It is used in pharmacy as a coloring agent, after the manner in which it was employed in domestic economy of the olden times for the same purpose.
The History of the Vegetable Drugs of the U.S.P., 1911, was written by John Uri Lloyd.