January 2009

by: Roger L. Hammer

Lignum Vitae

One of the most beautiful flowering trees in the flora of southern Florida is Lignum Vitae (Guajacum sanctum). The genus name Guajacum was derived from an aboriginal name for the tree, and the species name sanctum means “sacred.” The wood of this tree is extremely dense and rich in resin, making the tree highly sought by woodworkers and for use as bushings on drive shafts. The spinning drive shaft heats the wood and releases the oils, creating a natural lubricant.

The common name of this state-listed endangered species is Latin for “wood of life.” The tree was also called “Sailor’s Cure” in Spanish because the resin in the wood was once believed to be a cure for syphilis.

The leaves of Lignum Vitae are fed upon by the larvae of the lyside sulphur butterfly and the bright red seeds are eaten by mockingbirds, catbirds, and blue-headed vireos. Beautiful blue flowers appear several times a year attract a number of butterfly species, principally skippers.

If you are looking for a classy tree for your home landscape, this is the tree for you. Although it is a bit more expensive compared to other more commonly cultivated trees, it is worth every single penny, and the birds and butterflies it attracts are free.

On Wednesday, Jan. 7th we had a great Kayak Fishing Excursion. We went out of Convoy Point, the headquarters of Biscayne National Park. The day started with a beautiful sunrise and some pelicans diving on bait.


We got out on the water and immediately saw signs of fish. We had a few hits but no solid hook-ups.


As the morning progressed our luck improved and we put several fish in the boat. We also got to see some impressive aerial displays by some fighter jets from Homestead Air Force Base.



We ended up catching several trout, ‘cudas, and jacks. Everyone had a great time and the weather was perfect. It definitely beats a day in the office!

The weather couldn’t be better down here in sunny South Florida. While the rest of the country is snowed in, we are enjoying low 80’s and blue skies. The bugs are low and it is the perfect time to get out. We offer kayak, canoe, and bike trips into Biscayne Bay and Everglades National Park. Check the park events for upcoming tours. We can also accomodate private excursions on-demand.

A special trip coming up is a Fakahatchee Swamp Tromp with renowned naturalist Mike Owen. He will take us on a hike into the heart of the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park.

Also check out the new EcoAdventures website.