BBS Tree of the Month – November 2012 - Lignum Vitae - Ironwood
Common Name: Lignumvitae, Lignum Vitae, Ironwood, Tree of Life, Guajacum, Palus Sanctus, Lignum Benedictum, Lignun Sanctum, Spanish: Guayacan
Species:Guaiacum officinale – is an extremely slow-growing broadleaf evergreen tree which can reach a height of 30 to 40 feet. Native to the Caribbean Lignum Vitae, Latin for “long life” or another source says “wood of life”, is the heaviest and densest wood in the world, and will not float in water, but sink to the bottom. The wood contains resin, which has been used to treat a variety of medical conditions from cough to arthritis; chips of the wood can also be used to brew a tea. In times past the hard wood found many industrial uses. Fortunately the demand for the wood has been reduced by modern materials, such as polymers, alloys and composite materials.
Trunk/Foliage/Fruit: The trunk has a smooth, beige/grey bark. The leaves are opposite, pinnately compound, oval and have a lush green color. The showy flowers are blue, blooming from late spring until late summer, but can produce some flowers year round. The flowers are followed by 1/2 inch round fleshy, yellow fruit, which contain a red seed. Flower and fruit can appear at the same time. The flower is the national flower of Jamaica and attracts butterflies.
Soil: Any well draining soil.
Fertilizer: Any balanced fertilizer e.g., 20-20-20 or 10-10-10 weekly or every 2 weeks at half strength during the growing season, once per month during the winter month. A super phosphate in fall and spring helps to promote flowering.
Repot: Every 2 to 3 years in early spring with minimum night temperatures in the low to mid 60°F. When purchasing a nursery tree, roots should be pruned about 1/4 at each repotting. A few leaves need to be left on branches when pruning until break back develop.
Pruning/Training: Regular hard pruning is needed to develop strong branching. Clip and grow is best. Only young branches can be wired. Wiring can be done very carefully, as branches are brittle and scar easily. Clip and grow is advised.
Propagation: Seed only.
Insect/ Disease: No pests or diseases of concern.
Watering/Light: Lignum Vitae prefers moist but well draining soil, with generous watering during the summer months, and dryer conditions during the winter months.
Styles: In nature the plant often grows as single as well as multiple trunks with a spreading canopy. It is well suited for container planting such as bonsai. Informal upright as well is appropriate.
Temperature: Protect below 45°F.
Tropical Green Sheets
Scroll* down to find Jaboticaba, Jamaican Raintree, Crape Myrtle, Sea Grape, Chinese Hat, Royal Poinciana, Australian Pine, Black Olive, Schefflera, Lignum Vitae (Ironwood), Desert Rose (Adenium)
*the new software version from GoDaddy no longer provides anchors (links to specific spots on the page).
2012 Trees of the Month
Common Name: Jamaican Raintree, Ebony Coccuswood, Grenadilla, J. Ebony, West Indian Ebony
Botanical Name: Byra ebenus – Native to the Caribbean, in particular Jamaica, this evergreen tree grows 25 to 30’ tall. New branches grow straight up. As the branches become longer and heavier they cascade downward. Yellow-orange flowers appear along the branches after heavy rainfall and high humidity. Jamaican Rain Tree has a slow growth habit.
Small evergreen tiny, opposite leaves and small thorns.
Fragrant yellow-orange flowers appear along the branches during the rainy season, followed by pods containing 1 seed.
Use a soil with a good balance of drainage and water retention. It likes moisture, but will not tolerate soggy soils.
Use a balanced fertilizer (e.g., 20-20-20) alternating with a high phosphate (e.g., 10-15-10).
Repot during summer month. ROOT PRUNE SPARINGLY over several re-pottings.
Prolific back budding and angular growth. Buds back on old wood. Top can be pruned heavily. Clip and grow is best, may also be wired.
Seeds, cuttings, air-layering. Let pod dry on plant. After removing the seed germinate in damp paper towel.
No major pests noted.
Water as needed in a well-draining soil. Do not let dry out.
Morning or full sun to encourage flowering.
Protect below 50°F.
Suitable for small to medium size bonsai due to difficulty in obtaining a larger trunk: informal upright.
Picture on left: http://www.rareflora.com/bryaebe.html