Lignum Vitae

(Guaiacum Officinale)

     This small tree, native to the Antilles, is characteristic of xerophilous regions. Its wood, once commercially used in construction because of its density, was so exploited that the Gaiac, as it is locally called, is now a protected species. The bark of the Gaiac tree was used in times past for medicinal purposes; namely, to treat syphilis. Its sap was also attributed with the power to relieve arthritis. Its glossy leaves are a rich green and in general, this tree flowers twice a year. Its abundant flowers range in color from purple to blue and pale over time. Its orange-colored fruit is about 2 cm in diameter.