lignum vitae

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lignum vitae

(lĭg`nəm vī`tē) [Lat.,=wood of life], tropical American evergreen tree of the genus Guaiacum. The hard, dense, and extremely durable wood, obtained chiefly from G. officinale and G. sanctum, is used for ship construction, butcher blocks, and other articles requiring strength and hardness. The trees are cultivated to some extent in Florida and California for ornament. They also yield guaiacum, a gum resinresin,
any of a class of amorphous solids or semisolids. Resins are found in nature and are chiefly of vegetable origin. They are typically light yellow to dark brown in color; tasteless; odorless or faintly aromatic; translucent or transparent; brittle, fracturing like glass;
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 used in certain drugs. Various other hardwoods of Australasia (e.g., the acacia and eucalyptus) are also called lignum vitae. Lignum vitae is classified in several orders in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Magnoliopsida, order Sapindales, family Zygophyllaceae.

lignum vitae

1. either of two zygophyllaceous tropical American trees, Guaiacum officinale or G. sanctum, having blue or purple flowers
2. the heavy resinous wood of either of these trees, which is used in machine bearings, casters, etc.: formerly thought to have medicinal properties