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Guaiacum angustifolium (Texas lignum-vitae)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Guaiacum angustifolium

Guaiacum angustifolium Engelm.

Texas Lignum-vitae, Soapbush, Guayacan

Zygophyllaceae (Creosote-Bush Family)

Synonym(s): Porlieria angustifolia


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A leafy, compact evergreen, guayacan rarely grows higher than 6 feet, though under favorable conditions it may grow more than 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 4-8 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.


From the Image Gallery

13 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Pinnate
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 20 feet tall, often much shorter.
Flower: Flower 1 inch.
Fruit: Orange, 1 inch across.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Blue , Purple , Violet
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
Bloom Notes: Rarely white.


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

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)

Gray Hairstreak
(Strymon melinus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Propagation Material: Seeds

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
National Butterfly Center - Mission, TX

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-MLE-12 Collected 2005-11-12 in Terrell County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Guaiacum angustifolium in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Guaiacum angustifolium in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Guaiacum angustifolium


Record Modified: 2023-02-13
Research By: TWC Staff

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