Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Guaiacum angustifolium

Texas lignum-vitae, Soapbush, Guayacan

Zygophyllaceae (Creosote-Bush Family)

Guaiacum angustifolium (Texas lignum-vitae)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia
A leafy, compact evergreen, guayacan rarely grows higher than 6 feet, though under favorable conditions it may grow twice that high. It is often darker than surrounding shrubs, due to the stems being covered with dark green leaves. Leaves are pinnately compound, with 48 pairs of small, leathery leaflets. Flowers, which have 5 petals, are violet to purple, 1 inch across, with prominent yellow anthers. The blossom is followed by small, heart-shaped pods that burst open at maturity, exposing 2 scarlet-red, shiny seeds.

The bark of the roots is sometimes used as soap for washing woolen goods, as it does not fade colors. Guayacan is also a good honeybee plant. It does best at elevations below 4,000 feet.

Image Gallery:

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Pinnate
Size Notes: 3-6
Flower: Flower 1 inch
Fruit: Orange, 1 inch across
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Purple , Violet
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


Native Distribution: Chaparral & brush country, Prairie/Plains/Meadows/Pastures/Savannahs
Native Habitat: Chaparral & brush country, Prairie, Plains, Meadows, Pastures, Savannahs

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Limestone-based, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche type


Use Ornamental: Showy, Attractive, Blooms ornamental, Grows in clumps, Aromatic, Long-living, Fruits ornamental
Use Wildlife: Nectar-bees, Nectar-insects, Nesting site, Browse, Fruit-birds, Fruit-mammals.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Gray hairstreak butterfly, Lyside hairstreak butterfly.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Guaiacum angustifolium is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Gray Hairstreak
(Strymon melinus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Last Update: 2014-09-29