Phenotypic Variation of Four Populations of Osyris lanceolata Hochst. & Steud. (African Sandalwood) in Kenya


  • K. P. Andiego Department of Forestry and Wood Science, School of Natural Resource Management, University of Eldoret, P.o. Box 1125, Eldoret, Kenya
  • O. G. Dangasuk Department of Biological Sciences, University of Eldoret, P.o. Box 1125, Eldoret, Kenya
  • F. D. Otieno Department of Biological Sciences, University of Eldoret, P.o. Box 1125, Eldoret, Kenya
  • S. F. Omondi Biotechnology Laboratory, Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), Nairobi, Kenya
  • W. D. Odee The NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Bush Estate, Edinburgh, EH26 0QB, UK



Conservation, Morphological Variation, Osyris lanceolata


African sandalwood (Osyris lanceolata) is a dioecious and semi-parasitic tree at risk of extinction due to overexploitation for its essential oil, a product used in the perfumery and pharmaceutical industries. This study therefore determined the level of morphological variation in four kenyan populations of O. lanceolata, namely Gwasii, Kabarnet, Marigat, and Kitui, with the objective of recommending conservation strategies for the species. morphological traits were analysed using Anova and coefficient of variation. genetic similarity was analysed using a multivariate analysis using euclidean distance and a dendrogram constructed based on unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean (UPGMA). Results showed that, Gwasii trees had significant higher diameter at breast height (dbh), crown diameter (crd), and flower diameter (fld) than the rest. female trees had greater growth and floral mean values than male trees as observed in tree height (het), dbh, crd, flower length (fll) and fld. Analysis based on euclidean distance clearly distinguished Gwasii population from the Kitui, Kabarnet, and Marigat populations, which individuals revealed genetic interrelationship. in conclusion, morphological traits revealed great individual interspersion within and among populations revealing population genetic interrelationships. Study recommended that Gwasii population should be prioritized for ex-situ conservation while in-situ conservation should target plus trees in entire populations.


Andiego, K. P., Dangasuk, O. G., Odee, D. W., Omondi, F. S., Otieno, D. F., & Balozi, B. K. (2019). Genetic diversity of endangered sandalwood (Osyris lanceolata) populations in Kenya using ISSR molecular markers. East African Agricultural and Forestry Journal, 83 (2): 80-93.

Beentje, H. J. (1994). Kenya Trees Shrubs and Lianas. National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi.

Bradley, J. E., Imboma, T., & Bradley, W. D. (2015). Birds of Mount Kisingiri, Nyanza Province, including a preliminary survey of the Gwassi Hills Forest Reserve and a species new to Kenya. Scopus, 35 (1):11-38.

Brand, J. E. (1999). Ecology of sandalwood (S. spicatum) near Payne Find and Manzies, Western Australia, size structure and dry-sided stems. The Rangeland Journal 21 (2): 220-228.

Bunei, E. (2017). The hunt for the precious wood: illegal trade of sandalwood as an international criminal enterprise in Kenya. Society and Business Review, 12 (1): 63-76.

Bush, D., Thomson, L., Bolatolu, W., Dutt, S., Hamani, S., Likiafu, H., ... & Young, E. (2020). Domestication provides the key to conservation of Santalum yasi–a threatened Pacific sandalwood. Australian Forestry, 83(4), 186-194.

Butaud, J. F., Rives, F., Verhaegen, D., & Bouvet, J. M. (2005). Phylogeography of Eastern Polynesian sandalwood (Santalum insulare), an endangered tree species from the Pacific: a study based on chloroplast microsatellites. Laboratory of Natural Products Chemistry, University of French Polynesia, TahFren. Polyn 32 (10): 1763 - 1774.

Chiveu, C. J., Dangasuk, O. G., Omunyin, M. E., & Wachira, F. N. (2009). Genetic diversity in Kenyan populations of Acacia senegal (L.) Willd. based on ISSR Markers. Silvae Genetica 58 (1-2): 22-28.

CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) (2016). Accessed 20 Feb 2021.

da Silva, J. A. T., Sonar, D., & Nataraj, M. (2016). African sandalwood or Nepalese sandalwood: a brief synthesis. Notulae Scientia Biologicae, 8 (1): 57-61.

Dangasuk, O. G., & Panetsos, K. P. (2004). Altitudinal and longitudinal variation in Pinus brutia (Ten) of Crete Island, Greece: Some needle, cone and seed traits under natural habitat. New Forests 27 (3): 269-284.

Doležal, J., Šrůtek, M., & Villar, L. (2004). Stand structure and regeneration of a mixed forest (Abies alba-Fagus sylvatica) in the Central Pyrenees, Ordesa National Park, Spain. Pirineos 158: 3-26.

Erbo, K., & Awas, T. (2021). Allometric Equations for Aboveground Biomass Estimation of Osyris quadripartita (African Sandalwood) in Semi-arid Woodlands, Southern Ethiopia. International Journal of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, 6(3): 116.

Fatima, T., Srivastava, A., Somashekar, P.V., Hanur, V.S., Rao, M.S., & Bisht, S.S. (2019). Assessment of morphological and genetic variability through genic microsatellite markers for essential oil in Sandalwood (Santalum album L.). 3 Biotech, 9 (7):.1-16.

Hudson, P. (2008). Kununurra could become World’s biggest producer of Indian sandalwood.

Jones, C. G., Plummer, J.A., Barbour, E.L. & Byrne, M. (2009). Genetic Diversity of an Australian Santalum album Collection Implications for Tree Improvement Potential. Silvae Genetica 58: 5–6.

Jonstrup, A., Hedrén, M., & Andersson, S. (2016). Host environment and local genetic adaptation determine phenotype in parasitic Rhinanthus angustifolius. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 180 (1), 89-103.

Kamondo, B., Giathi, G., Osore, C., Machua, J., Kagunyu, L., Wafula, A., ... & Nyingi, K. (2014). Growing of East African Sandalwood. Guidelines for Tree Growers. KEFRI, Nairobi. KEFRI, 3.

Kenya Law (2007). Gazette Notice No. 3176 of 2007 under the Forests Act (2005).

Khan, S., Ikram, M., & Faisal, M. (2021). Commercial, Cosmetic, and Medicinal Importance of Sandal (Santalum album): A Valuable Forest Resource. In Non-Timber Forest Products (pp. 129-144). Springer, Cham.

Kimiti, J. M., Machua, J. M., & Odee, D. W. (2016). Acacia senegal (L.) Wild. Associates with a Diversity of Beneficial Micro-symbionts in the Arid and Semi-arid Lands of Kenya. Microbiology Research Journal International, 1-8.

Krishnakumar, N., Parthiban, K. T., Jayamani, P., Revathi, R., & Umeshkanna, S. (2017). Genetic variability of growth parameters among different progenies of Santalum album L. Journal of the Indian Society of Coastal Agricultural Research, 35 (1): 56-63.

Lasky, J.R., Sun, S.H., Su, Z.S., Chen, T., & Keitt, H. (2013). Trait‐mediated effects of environmental filtering on tree community dynamics. Journal of Ecology, 101 (3): 722-733.

Last, L., Lu¨scher, G., Widmer, F., Boller, B., & Ko¨lliker, R. (2014). Indicators for genetic and phenotypic diversity of Dactylis glomeratain Swiss permanent grassland. Ecological Indicators 38:181 – 191.

Ma, G. H., M. Yue, Z., Jing-Feng, Z., & Fu-Lian, C. (2005). Study of semi-parasitism of sandalwood seedling. Journal of Tropical and Subtropical Botany 13(3): 233-238.

Machua, J., Kamondo, B., Mwangi, L., Giathi, G., & Chahil, O. (2009). A useful parasite. Miti, 3: 30-31.

Maundu, P., & Tengnas,,T. (2005). Useful trees and shrubs for Kenya. Technical handbook edition No. 35. World Agroforestry Centre –Eastern and Central Africa Regional Programme (ICRAF-ECA) Nairobi, Kenya.

McKown, A. D., Guy, R. D., Klápště, J., Geraldes, A., Friedmann, M., Cronk, Q. C., ... & Douglas, C. J. (2014). Geographical and environmental gradients shape phenotypic trait variation and genetic structure in P opulus trichocarpa. New Phytologist, 201(4), 1263-1276.

Meng, S., Wang, X., Bian, Z., Li, Z., Yang, F., Wang, S., ... & Lu, J. (2021). Melatonin enhances nitrogen metabolism and haustorium development in hemiparasite Santalum album Linn. Environmental and Experimental Botany, 186, 104460.

Moniodis, J., Renton, M., Jones, C. G., Barbour, E. L., & Byrne, M. (2018). Genetic and environmental parameters show associations with essential oil composition in West Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum). Australian Journal of Botany, 66(1): 48-58.

Mothogoane, M. S. (2011). Osyris lanceolata Hochst. & Steud. South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) Report. (Accessed 02 April 2016).

Murphy, M., & Garkaklis, M. J. (2003). "Hopping Into A Bright Future- The Woylie Sandalwood Story." Sandalwood Research Newsletter 18.

Mwang’ingo, P. L., Teklehaimanot, Z., Hall, J. B., & Lulandala, L. L. L. (2003). African sandalwood (Osyris lanceolata): Resource assessment and quality variation among populations in Tanzania. Southern African Forestry Journal, 199: 1: 77–88.

Mwang’ingo, P. L., Kibodya, G., & Mwang’ong’o, A. R. (2010). Oil yield and quality variation between sexes in Osyris lanceolata (African Sandalwood) and its value as a fodder plant in Tanzania Forests. Journal of Forestry Science 72:69-74.

Mwang'ingo, P. L., Teklehaimanot, Z., Hall, J. B., & Zilihona, J. E. (2007). Sex distribution, reproductive biology, and regeneration in the dioecious species Osyris lanceolata (African sandalwood). Tanzania. Tanzania Journal of Forestry and Nature Conservation 76:118-133.

Page, T., Doran, J., Tungon, J., & Tabi, M. (2020). Restoration of Vanuatu sandalwood (Santalum austrocaledonicum) through participatory domestication. Australian Forestry, 83 (4): 216-226.

Peng, L., Ru, M., Wang, B., Wang, Y., Li, B., Yu, J., & Liang, Z. (2014). Genetic diversity assessment of a germplasm collection of Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge. based on morphology, ISSR and SRAP markers. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology, 55, 84-92.

Popp, J. W., & Reinartz, J. A. (1988). Sexual dimorphism in biomass allocation and clonal growth of Xanthoxylum americanum. American Journal of Botany 75: 1735–1741.

Poudel, N., Mandal, R. A., Mathema, A. B., & Timilsina, K. (2021). Growth performance of Santalum album its income potentiality: A study from Pyuthan District, Nepal. World, 1 (01): 026-034.

Riba-Hernández, P., Segura, L. J., & Muñoz-Valverde, J. (2016). Female fruit production depends on female flower production and crown size rather than male density in a continuous population of a tropical dioecious tree (Virola surinamensis). American Journal of Botany, 103 (11): 1990-1999.

Seran, Y. N., Sudarto, S., Hakim, L., & Arisoesilaningsih, E. (2018). Sandalwood (Santalum album) growth and farming success strengthen its natural conservation in the Timor Island, Indonesia. Biodiversitas Journal of Biological Diversity, 19(4): 1586-1592.

Subasinghe, S. M. C. U. P. (2013). Sandalwood Research: A Global Perspective. Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka. Journal Tropical Forestry Environments 3(01):1-8.

Tamla, H. T., Cornelius, J. P., & Page, T. (2012). Reproductive biology of three commercially valuable Santalum species: development of flowers and inflorescences, breeding systems, and interspecific crossability. Euphytica, 184 (3): 323-333.

Teixeira, H., Rodrı´guez-Echeverrı´a, S., & Nabais, C. (2014). Genetic diversity and differentiation of Juniperus thurifera in Spain and Morocco as determined by SSR.PLoS ONE9:e88996.

Teklehaimanot, Z., Mwag’ingo, P. L., Mugasha, A. G., & Ruffo, C. K. (2003). Influence of the origin of stem cutting, season of collection and auxin application on the vegetative propagation of African sandalwood (Osyris lanceolata) in Tanzania. South African Forestry Journal 201: 13-14.

The Republic of Kenya (2005). Sessional paper no. 9 of 2005 on Forest Policy, MENR.

Trueman, S., Warburton, C., James, E., Fripp, Y., & Wallace H. (2001) “Clonality in remnant populations of Santalum lanceolatum.” Sandalwood Research Newsletter 14: 1–4.

Wallace, C. S., & Rundel, P. W. (1979). Sexual dimorphism and resource allocation in male and female shrubs of Simmondsia chilensis. Oecologia 44: 34–39.

Warburton, C. L., James, E. A., Fripp, Y. J., Trueman, S. J., & Wallace, H. M. (2000). Clonality and sexual reproductive failure in remnant populations of Santalum lanceolatum (Santalaceae). Biological Conservation 96: 45-54.

Zhang, Q. D., Jia, R. Z., Meng, C., Ti, C. W., & Wang, Y. L. (2015). Diversity and population structure of a dominant deciduous tree based on morphological and genetic data. AoB Plants, 7.; doi:10.1093/aobpla/plv103.




How to Cite

Andiego, K. P. ., Dangasuk, O. G., Otieno, F. D. ., Omondi, S. F. ., & Odee, W. D. . (2022). Phenotypic Variation of Four Populations of Osyris lanceolata Hochst. & Steud. (African Sandalwood) in Kenya. Africa Environmental Review Journal, 5(2), Pg 168–180.