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Ironwood growing in the Cockrell Butterfly Center

wood of life


All species in the genus Guaiacum are now endangered in the wild, due to the former high demand for their wood. This extremely dense wood, so heavy it sinks in water, is also self-lubricating.  It was used to make shaft bearings in ship propellers up until the 1960’s brought the invention of sealed metal ball bearings.

It was also the favored wood used to make the truncheons or nightsticks of British bobbies, as well as croquet balls.  Ironwood is also called Lignum Vitae, Latin for “wood of life,” because of its medicinal uses. The wood chips can be brewed into a tea and the resin can be used to treat a wide variety of ailments.
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