Guaiacum

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Guaiacum

 

a genus of evergreen trees of the bean-caper family (Zygophyllaceae). There are six species in tropical America. The trees are tall, with paripinnate leaves, and hard, heavy wood (density, 1.17-1.3 g/cm3), which is used in machine building. The most valuable timber for industrial purposes comes from G. sanctum and G. officinale. (Guaiacum is obtained from the latter.)


Guaiacum

 

contained in the wood (about 22 percent) of the heart of the guaiac tree (lignum vitae; Guaiacum officinale). Guaiacum is obtained by the dry distillation or boiling of the pounded wood. The gum is reddish brown, dissolves in alcohol, acetone, ether, and alkali, and melts at 85° C. It has a density of 1.2 g/cm3. An alcohol solution of guaiacum turns green or blue when oxidized and is used as a hemoglobin reagent.