Tree of Life
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Tree of Life
ntroduced Photo: Aarti Khale
Common name: Tree of Life, Lignum Vitae, Guaiac
Botanical name: Guaiacum officinale    Family: Zygophyllaceae (Caltrop family)

Tree of Life is a tree yeilding the true lignum vitae, a wood once used to treat syphilis. Lignum Vitae is the heaviest and densest wood in the world and will rapidly sink to the bottom when placed in water. It resists rot caused by insects and moisture so effectively that remains of Lignum vitae wood used as posts for dwellings by Taino Indians discovered in Tutu, St. Thomas were dated by carbon dating and found to be over 800 years old. The genus, Guaiacum, is taken from the tree's Caribbian name. The tree is native to the West Indies, southern Florida, the western coast of Central America, and the northern coast of South America. This small tree is very slow growing, reaching about 10 m in height with a trunk diameter of 60 cm. The tree is essentially evergreen throughout most of its native range. The leaves are compound, 2.5 to 3 cm in length, and 2 cm wide. Flowers are showy, to 2.5 cm across, bluish purple, fading to white .The flowers have five petals which yield a bright yellow-orange fruit with red flesh and black seeds. Guaiacum officinale is the national flower of Jamaica. Flowering: March-October.
Medicinal uses: Some of the resins active ingredients are effective anti inflammatory agents. Due to this fact, it is used against sore throut and gout.

Identification credit: Prashant More
Photographed at Jijamata Udyan,Mumbai.
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