Pterocarpus santalinus (Red Sanders or Red Sandalwood; Rakta chandana) is a species of Pterocarpus native to India.It is only found in south India in Cuddhpah and Chittoore on the Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh border.
In Talakona forest, in Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh, India.It is a light-demanding small tree growing to 8 m tall with a trunk 50–150 cm diameter. It is fast-growing when young, reaching 5 m tall in three years even on degraded soils. It is not frost tolerant, being killed by temperatures of ?1 °C. The leaves are alternate, 3–9 cm long, trifoliate with three leaflets. The flowers are produced in short racemes. The fruit is a pod 6–9 cm long containing one or two seeds.
The wood has historically been valued in China, particularly during the Ming and Qing periods, referred to in Chinese as zitan and spelt tzu-t'an by earlier western authors such Gustav Ecke, who introduced classical Chinese furniture to the west . It has been one of the most prized woods for millennia .King Solomon was given tribute logs of Almug in Sanskrit valgu, valgum by the Queen of Sheba Due to its slow growth and rarity, furniture made from zitan is difficult to find and can be expensive . Between the 17th and 19th centuries in China the rarity of this wood led to the reservation of zitan furniture for the Qing dynasty imperial household. Chandan, the Indian word for Red Sandalwood which is Tzu-t'an, are linked by etymology. The word tan in Chinese is a perfect homonym of "tan", meaning cinnabar, vermillion and the cognition is suggested by the interchange of chan for oriflamme, the vermilion ensign of the ancients. Chinese traders would have been familiar with Chandan. Tzu-t'an then is the ancient Chinese interpretation for the Indian word chandan for red sandalwood.
The other form of zitan is from the species Dalbergia luovelii, Dalbergia maritima, and Dalbergia normandi, all similar species named in trade as bois de rose or violet rosewood which when cut are bright crimson purple changing to dark purple again. It has a fragrant scent when worked.