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Guaiacum Officinale (Lignum vitae), literally means “tree of life,” is a small to moderate-sized tropical American tree reaching a height of 30 feet. It has a flat-bottomed, rounded dense crown, spreading to a width equal to the tree height. Leaves are evergreen, yellow-green, compound, 1 to 1.5 by .75 inches, with 2 to 3 pairs of stemless leaflets.
Moreover, flowers are borne in clusters at the branch ends, blooms have 5 petals, about.75 of an inch wide and are a lovely blue, profuse and covering the tree. They remain for a long time, fading from deep to light blue as they age. Additionally, fruits are small, round, compressed, yellow capsules, with 5 cells each holding a single seed. Seeds are used for propagation.
The trunk and branches exude a gum, which along with bark and wood have medicinal use. It is a prized timber tree, yielding a greenish-brown to yellow wood. The wood is hardy, dense, very resistant as well as self-lubricating. The wood has many applications, such as caster wheels and turned novelties. Posts of this tree will last for decades. Guaiacum Officinale (Lignum vitae) will grow on poor soils if well drained, and in landscaping has applications as a slow-growing shade or flowering tree, specimen tree, on the patio or garden, in a container, in seaside locations and along roads. This plant is closely related to Verawood.