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Guajacum sanctum

Family: Zygophyllaceae (caltrop family)
Common Name: Holywood lignum-vitae, lignum-vitae, tree-of-life
Plant Type:
  • trees, shrubs
Height to: 15-30'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • 40 to 30ºF ZONE 10
  • 50 to 40ºF ZONE 11
Sun Exposure:
  • part sun
  • full sun
Bloom Description: Flowers are produced at the tips of shoots singly or in few-flowered clusters during march and april. The flowers are almost 1 in (2. 5 cm) across and the petals are true blue (a real rarity). The fruit is a brown 5-lobed capsule that splits open when ripe in september or october to expose black seeds that are enclosed in a fleshy red pulp.
Soil Type: Lignum-vitae is drought tolerant and requires a soil with excellent drainage.
Plant Perks:
  • Drought Tolerant
Propagation: By seed or by new-growth tip cuttings in spring. Seeds are difficult to germinate because (like many tropical trees) lignum-vitae seeds have a natural tendency to remain dormant for a long time. Germination can be hastened by soaking the seeds in a 0. 1% solution of gibberellic acid.
Native to: Holywood lignum-vitae occurs naturally (but uncommonly) in dry coastal areas throughout the caribbean basin including the bahamas, west indies, yucatan, central america, and in the middle and upper florida keys. Holywood lignum-vitae was once common on the lower florida keys and key west, but it was completely exterminated there by over harvesting for its valuable wood. Today the species is very rare in florida and only a few specimens remain. Holywood lignum-vitae is listed as an endangered species by the state of florida. Best place in the us to see holywood lignum-vitae is at lignumvitae key state botanical site on islamorada.
Notes for Identification: Source: floridata use lignum-vitae in tropical seaside settings. It is resistant to salt spray and tolerant of drought, so would be a good choice for dry, sandy soils near the coast. Lignum-vitae makes a handsome specimen or, used in groups, an effective hedge. It grows very slowly, so don't use lignum-vitae if you want a quick screen! Lignum-vitae also is grown in containers, where it will stay small for many years.
Located in: Trees, Shrubs
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