One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The deep red heartwood of a South Asian leguminous tree, Pterocarpus santalinus (subfamily Papilionoideae), used mainly as a dye wood and (formerly) as a medicinal agent.
Late 16th century; earliest use found in William Phillip (fl. 1596–1619), translator. From red + sanders-wood.
red sanderswood/rɛd ˈsandəzwʊd/
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