This small tree, native to the Antilles, is characteristic of xerophilous regions. This tree is sometimes referred to as the "tree of life" because of its many uses. Its wood, once commercially used in construction because of its density, was so exploited that the Gaiac, as it is locally called, is now a protected species. The bark of the Gaiac tree was used in times past for medicinal purposes. Its sap was also attributed with the power to relieve arthritis. Its glossy leaves are a rich green and in general, this tree flowers twice a year. Its abundant flowers range in color from purple to blue and pale over time. Its red-orange-colored fruit is about 1" in diameter. Lignum vitae is a great medium for carvings. Lignum vitae wood was used in the past to make ball bearings because its extremely high resin content makes it self-lubricating. Another place that Lignum vitae were used was in United States courtrooms, where the judge's gavel was traditionally made from this fine wood. Watering Needs: Moderate water, needs good drainage, somewhat drought resistant. The blue flower is the national flower of Jamaica.