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The National Jamaica Flower -
Lignum Vitae

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The National Jamaica Flower is called the Lignum Vitae and it is one of the six (6) national symbols of Jamaica.

Its scientific name is Guiacum Officinale.

Some people often make the mistake and call it the national tree, but it is the national flower and not the national tree.

The national tree of Jamaica is indeed the Blue Mahoe, so remember the difference.

The Lignum Vitae was found here by the explorer Christopher Columbus. Its name is Latin and when translated from Latin means “wood of life.” This is probably adopted because of its known medicinal qualities.

The tree which produces this flower is short and compact and is native to continental tropical America and the West Indies.

In Jamaica it grows best in the dry woodland, which is mostly along the north and south coasts of the island.

national tree of Jamaica Lignum Vitae

This plant is extremely ornamental. It produces an attractive blue flower and orange-yellow fruit and its crown has an attractive rounded shape.

The Lignum Vitae tree is one of the most useful in the world. This is because its components: the body, gum, bark, fruit, leaves and blossoms, all serve some useful purpose. In fact, the tree has been regarded for its medicinal properties.

There is a gum that is obtained from its resin which is known as gum guaiac. This gum was once regarded as a purgative (which means to purge or cleanse, you know, to get rid of impurities especially freeing the bowels). It was also exported to Europe from the early sixteenth century as a remedy which, when combined with mercury, serves as medicine for diseases such as syphilis and it has also been used as a remedy for gout....

...So the use of this national Jamaica flower for medicinal purposes proves to be quite effective.

Additionally, the wood was once used as propeller shaft bearings in almost all the ships that was sailing the ‘Seven Seas’. This is why today in shipyards worldwide, the Lignum Vitae and Jamaica are closely associated.

The wood, however was not only used for the purpose of ship bearings, it is a very heavy wood which will sink in water. However, because of its toughness, it is also used for items such as mortars, mallets, batons (carried by policemen), and pulleys. Sometimes it is even used for building crafty and strong furniture.

So, the national Jamaica Flower, the Lignum Vitae, is a very useful plant and its medicinal characteristics and sturdiness gives it even more recognition both nationally and internationally.

Remember, even though it is a tree that bears the Lignum Vitae flower, it is not supposed to be mistaken for the national tree of Jamaica which is called the Blue Mahoe.


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