Lignum Vitae – Jamaica National Flower

The national flower of Jamaica is the Lignum Vitae (Guaiacum officinale), which is indigenous to our island.

The Latin name Lignum Vitae which means “tree of life” or “wood of life” is very suitable, due to the fact that this flowering, evergreen tree has many medicinal uses.

As a herb, Lignum Vitae is known to prevent the building up of uric acid in joints, and is effective for treating gout, arthritis, blisters, epilepsy, and even mouth ulcers. It’s action is anesthetic. alterant, and anti-inflammatory.

The most used parts of the Lignum Vitae are the wood, bark, and resin; and they may be used as a tea and bath to relieve inflammation, and for gout attacks.

Please note: High dosages of Lignum Vitae may cause diarrhea as well as stomach and intestinal problems. The wood of this tree has also been reported to cause skin irritation. Stop using if symptoms such as: breathing problems, chest pain, chest congestion, skin hives, rashes, and inflammations occur.

The Wood Of The Lignum Vitae Tree

Lignum Vitae is regarded by most to be both the heaviest and hardest wood in the world. When placed in water, the wood will increase in density as it absorbs water; eventually it will become heavier than water, and sink.

The wood of the Lignum Vitae tree is very durable for outdoor use, and is also very resistant to insect attack. Its natural oils provide self-lubrication that gives the wood excellent wear resistance. However, due to its extremely high density, it is known to dull cutters, and is considered quite difficult to work with. Also, because of its high oil content and density, it’s very difficult to get a strong and reliable glue joint.

Lignum Vitae is used for making tool handles, mallet heads, bearings, bushings, pulley wheels, gigs, and turned objects.

The Lignum Vitae tree has been exploited (for both its wood and resin extracts) to the brink of extinction, and is now listed as an endangered species.
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Photos Of Lignum Vitae Flowers

 

The Lignum Vitae is a very slow growing tree, reaching heights of up to 30 – 40ft (9m – 12m). The tree is drought-tolerant with average water needs, and thrives in full sun. The flowers which are light blue or medium-blue in colour are attractive to butterflies; and its wood has a mild, perfume-like fragrance.
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Sources:
1. herbpathy.com/Uses And Benefits Of Lignum
2. wood-database.com/lignum-vitae

 

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