Direct seeding Acacias of different form and function as hosts for Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum)
Geoff S. Woodall and Chris J. Robinson
Department of Agriculture, 444 Albany Highway, Albany, Western Australia 6330
It has long been recognised that Acacia species are the premier hosts upon which to establish the parasitic Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum). Most plantations established to date in the wheatbelt have Jam wattle (Acacia acuminata) at 830 per hectare as the main or sole host species of Acacia. Whilst it is apparent that A. acuminata is one of the ideal principal hosts and should form a significant part of the host mix, the inclusion of other species should also be considered as they can complement the role played by Jam. Inclusion of multiple host species can benefit Sandalwood plantations by: reducing the parasitic load on individual hosts and host groups, thus maximising the potential for long-term survival; providing additional seasonal sources of water and nutrition; providing shade to Sandalwood seedlings and full sun to mature trees; protecting seedlings against pests and diseases; reducing the weed burden; sustaining host vigour; and increasing nature conservation value. By direct seeding a biodiverse host mix it is possible to establish a large number and range of Acacia species (and other genera) as potential hosts. The use of direct seeding for host establishment is discussed.