Semiparasitic herbs, shrubs or trees, usually on roots or stems of plants. Leaves simple, exstipulate, linear or broadly so, alternate or opposite. Flowers bi-or sometimes unisexual, small, regular, disposed in racemes, spikes or heads. Perianth campanulate to tubular, 4-5-lobed. Disk present. Stamens as many as the perianth lobes, epiphyllous. Ovary inferior, unilocular with 1-3 pendulous ovules from a basal placenta. Style simple. Fruit a nut or a drupe. Seed endospermic, lacking a testa.
The family resembles the Loranthaceae in the semiparasitic habit and the ovules which are not clearly differentiated, but differs in the 4-5-merous flowers with a simpler floral and fruit structure.
A family of about 30 genera and 400 species, distributed in tropical and temperate parts of both hemispheres, the majority occurring in S. Africa. Represented in Pakistan by 2 genera and 3 species, of which the taxon Santalum album L. (sandalwood tree), is reportedly cultivated in Karachi (Price list of plants of the Gandhi Gardens, printed by Municipal Press, Karachi, 1958).
Acknowledgements: We are grateful to the U. S. Department of Agriculture for financing this research under PL-480. Thanks are also due to Mr. A. Radcliffe-Smith, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, to Mr. I. C. Hedge, Royal Botanic Garden, Endinburgh and Angus Gunn, Assistant Keeper, County Museums Department, Liverpool, for information concerning Royles handwriting, and for their helpful suggestions.