Lignum vitae

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Lignum vitae
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Magnoliopsida
Subclass:Rosidae
Order:Zygophyllales
Family:Zygophyllaceae
Genus:Guaiacum
Species:G. officinale

Template:Taxobox section binomial botany

Lignum Vitae (Guaiacum officinale) is a tropical American evergreen tree of the genus Guaiacum. The common name is Latin for "wood of life". Its hard, dense and durable wood is the densest wood known.

The wood is obtained chiefly from G. officinale and G. sanctum and is important for ship construction and other uses requiring strength and hardness. The trees are grown in Florida and California as ornamental plants. They also yield guajacum, a gum resin used in certain drugs. Master clockmaker John Harrison used Lignum vitae as the basis for his nearly all-wood clocks, since the wood provides natural lubricating oils which do not dry out. The Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton's ship Endurance was ribbed with Lignum vitae.

The wood has a specific gravity between 1.28 and 1.37, so it will sink in water. The tree grows slowly and can reach a height of approximately 20 m, though it is usually less than half that. The resin has been used to treat a variety of medicinal conditions from coughs to arthritis. Wood chips can also be used to brew a tea. Argentine lignum vitae heartwood has a strong, fresh aroma and is used as incense.

Lignum vitae is the national flower of Jamaica. It is also found on the Florida Keys and in South and Central America.

Various other hardwoods of Australasia (e.g., the acacia and eucalyptus) are also called Lignum vitae and should not be confused.

This plant is also known as Guayacan, Palo santo, and Ironwood.nl:Pokhout

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