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Trees with blue flowers are rare in nature, which makes the Lignumvitae an especially beautiful addition to any landscape. The Lignumvitae is an extremely slow-growing native tree. Its slow growth, coupled with the facts that they are not widely available commercially and can be expensive when compared to other trees, make their sighting fairly uncommon in our area.
How tall they get is disputed. Some sources say that they can mature at 30 to 40 feet tall, but the largest specimens our Urban Forester has seen in landscapes are about 12 to 15 feet tall. In the Florida Keys, there is Lignumvitae Key Bontanical State Park that has many naturally occurring Lignumvitae trees. The oldest one is estimated to be 1,500 years old and yet it is only about 20 feet tall and 8 inches in diameter.
Lignumvitae means "Tree of Life." After the September 11 attacks, a Lignumvitae was chosen as a memorial tree for the victims. You can visit that one, and see several other lovely specimens throughout the City. One is in Colee Hammock Park (1500 Brickell Drive) and there is another in the native garden at Esplanade Park across from the Museum of Discovery and Science.
Guaiacum sanctum is the national tree of the Bahamas and Guaiacum officinale, also known as Lignumvitae, is the national tree of Jamaica. Lignumvitae is a great medium for carvings. The wood was used in the past to make ball bearings because its extremely high resin content makes it self-lubricating. Another place that Lignumvitae were used was in United States courtrooms, where the judge's gavel was traditionally made from this fine wood.
You can enjoy is simply for its beauty, and because it is a Florida-friendly tree, meaning it is highly drought and salt resistant. According to our Urban Forester, the Lignumvitae would make a great addition to almost anyone’s landscape.