Santalum album is a hemi-parasite, capable of developing haustoria to obtain nitrogen, phosphorous and other basic amino acids from the host species. Therefore an experiment was conducted for 24 weeks to identify the most effective seedling host/s for the better growth of S. album in the nursery period. The growth was measured in terms of seedling height, root collar diameter and number of leaf whorls of the main stem.
Poly pots were used for this experiment and the host species were planted a week prior to transplanting sandalwood seedlings. Six candidate host species (both legumes and non-legumes) were used for this experiment and sandalwood plants without a host species was used as a control. In addition to that, a fertiliser treatment without a host was also tested. Watering was done once in two days and an insecticide was applied whenever necessary.
Kruskal-Wallis test was conducted to identify the growth differences between sandalwood plants grown with selected host species and treatments and it was proven that there were significant differences. The best sandalwood seedling height was attained by the plants grown with Desmodium triflorum up to the 24th week and then the plants grown with Mimosa pudica attained the same height. The best root collar diameter growth and the highest number of leaf whorls were produced by the plants grown with M. pudica and D. triflorum respectively. Control experiment and the fertliser treatment produced poor results. However, the use of M. pudica is practically difficult due to the presence of thorns on the stem. D. triflorum grows as a creeper along the surface and therefore difficult to maintain in pots.