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(sandalwoods), a family of dicotyledonous plants including herbs, shrubs, and—less frequently—small trees. The plants, which are for the most part hemiparasitic on the branches and roots of other plants, have green leaves and root suckers (haustoria). Some are parasites with leaves reduced to scales. The small, usually inconspicuous leaves are in inflorescences or, less frequently, are solitary. The fruit is a nut or drupe.
There are 30 to 35 genera, embracing about 400 species; they grow in both hemispheres, most often in dry tropical and subtropical regions. The USSR has one genus, Thesium, which includes more than 20 species. The genus consists of perennial, often hemiparasitic herbs; the most common species is T. arvense (formerly T. ramosum). The sandalwood tree (Santalum album) has the greatest practical significance.