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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Santalaceae (sandalwood family)

[= Viscaceae]

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core eudicots > Order: Santalales

About 44 genera and 990 species worldwide, occurring in subtropical and temperate regions. Six genera and 226 species are native to southern Africa and a further species in another genus is cultivated in southern Africa.

Genera native to southern Africa

List from Jordaan and Burgoyne (2000) and Germishuizen (2000).


One species, Osyridicarpos schimperianus, occurring from Ethiopia down to the Eastern Cape in southern Africa. See Flora of Zimbabwe.



Nine species, distributed throughout Africa, the Mediterranean region and S. Asia, with three species native to southern Africa.


One species, Rhoiacarpos capensis, occurring from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape, through the Eastern Cape and into KwaZulu-Natal.



Four species, endemic to the Western Cape and Eastern Cape.



About 325 species, occurring in temperate regions of the Old World and with two species in South America. A total of 195 species are native to southern Africa.



About 100 species (African and Asian tropics, temperate Europe and Asia), of which 22 are native to southern Africa. The true Mistletoe Viscum album (in the Asterix books plucked by Getafix with his golden sickle) is found in Europe. 


Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa

A further genus with one species cultivated in the region.

Santalum album (Sandalwood tree)

Native to India, Indonesia and northern Australia. Harvested for its fragrant wood and the oil derived from it. See Wikipedia



  • Germishuizan, G. 2000. Viscaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 560-561. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

  • Jordaan, M. and Burgoyne, P. 2000. Santalaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 501-503. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.