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IRONWOOD TREE OF LIFE Lignum Vitea Blue Flowers


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The Lignum Vitea (Guajacum sanctum) is a beautiful, colorful small growing unique tree with bright, true blue flowers; and is the only flowering tree that blooms in this color.  The species once grew in abundance throughout the West Indies, Central America, the Caribbean Islands and the Florida Keys. However, in recent times it has become very scarce.
It is commonly called Ironwood, The Tree of Life, or Greenheart, and is a favorite choice for Bonsai enthusiasists. The trunk of the Lignum Vitea has an attractive grey, gnarly, rough textured bark, and the trunk naturally develops an interesting twisting and curving shape, along with unusual pinnately compound leaves that have the unique habit of growing at right angles to the stem. which make them especially well suited for Bonsai culture.
These trees can reach up to 30 feet tall, but rarely do. About 15 feet is the average mature size, which is reached very slowly over a period of many years.  The slow growth habit, manageable mature size of the tree and the bright, unusually colored fowers, and interesting gnarly bark make these trees a wonderful choice for the tropical landscape, either planted in the ground or potted. 

The uniquely colored blue lowers occur at the terminal ends of the new shoots in the late spring, are a rare shade of bright, true blue, and are followed by a round five lobed inedible fruit that splits open to reveal a red fleshy pulp with black seed when it ripens in the early fall.

These trees are drought tolerant once well established, and relatively pest free.  Their key needs are a porus soil with excellent drainage, and protection from the cold.   They can be grown in full sun, but seems to perform better in very light shade.

The wood of the Lignum Vitea Tree wood is the considered to be among the most dense and hard wood that is available.   It is beautiful, in high demand, and expensive; and is now facing extinction as a result of over harvesting.  Only a few specimens remain growing naturally, with the vast majority of those now being protected by law.  It is illegal in most location to even harvest the seed from the wild.

Lignum Vitea Tree does not reproduce readily in the wild, or easily in greenhouse cultivation.  However few commercial growers have the time, or patience needed to grow them commercially.  The seeds are difficult to germinate and vegetative cuttings require special handling and monitoring.  They take a long time, and only a small percentage will root successfully under the best of conditions.   Conversely, once the starters become well established Lignum vitea is reasonably easy to grow on to a larger size, but does so slowly, which means these beautiful trees remain scarce and hard to find.
The wood from this tree is so dense that it will not float and has such a high content of resin and oil that it was once used for bearings in ships and submarines, and was a choice material in the making of fine clocks.   It is still highly sought after by woodworkers, cabinet and furniture makers, and is used to artisan inlays and carvings as well as high quality bowling and croquet balls and mallets.
This wood was also once used to make night sticks for British Policemen as, due to its strength and hardness, a club made from it will deliver a nasty bruise without breaking.
The resin is said to have medicinal and magical properties.  Legend goes that Christopher Columbus discovered the tree and named it the Tree of Life. The magic wand of Merlin the Magician is said to have been been carved from a living Lignum Vitae Tree.  Jazz singer Sam Manning wrote an interesting bawdy musical tribute to the masculine properities of the Ironwood Tree in the 1920’s.
The Lignum Vitea Tree is the national tree of the Bahamas and the national flower of Jamaica still, even though the trees have mostly disappeared from the remaining forests there.

Available Size

4 Inch Pots - Mature, well rooted starter size plants, growing and shipped in a 4 inch plastic pot, plant will be a minimum of about 8 to 10 inches tall and unlikely to have bloom or bud at the time of shipping.


Botanical Name Lignm vitea (Guaiacum officinale)
Common Name Ironwood Tree of Life
Plant Family Zygophyllaceae
Mature Size 10 to 15 feet
Bloom Color Blue
Bloom Form Five petal single
Bloom Time Warm Season
Zone 9, 10, 11
Fragrance None
Key Features Endangered species, unusual color, small stature
Suggested Uses Street, Urban, Accent, Specimen
Grower Notes Protected species no parts can be harvested from the wild

Direct planting of 4 inch starter size plants is not recommended, so for the best results with your new plant, we recommend it be repotted and allowed to grow larger before setting out in a tropical landscape. 

When the new pot has filled with roots and the plant is larger, then here a few hints for successful growing in the landscape in Zones 10, and 11.  can be grown as a potted plant indefinitely.

  • Plant in fertile, porus, very well draining, slightly acidic soil. Amend with high quality organic and drainage material as needed.
  • Locate in full lightly dappled shade.
  • Provide supplemental irrigation, but take care not to over water.
  • Feed a good quality, slow release, bloom boosting fertilize with the initial planting and twice yearly in the early Spring and early Fall thereafter. 
  • Supplement with a water soluble plant food in between feeding.
  • Prune lightly and often when young to encourage branching and after flowering to promote uniform shape and control size.
  • Protect from frost and freeze.

Ironwood Tree of Life - Lignum vitea (Guaiacum officinale)





  • Model: G2-81Y1-8505
  • Shipping Weight: 3lbs
  • 5 Units in Stock
  • Manufactured by: Emerald Goddess Gardens

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