CITESwoodID: descriptions, illustrations, identification and information retrieval

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H. G. Richter, K. Gembruch, G. Koch

Guaiacum spp. (Pockholz, Lignum Vitae) - CITES II

Nomenclature. Family: ZYGOPHYLLACEAE. Other trade relevant species: important trade species: G. officinale, G. sanctum, G. coulteri. Further trade and local names: guajak (CZ, RU, HU); gaiac (FR); guaiacum wood (GB); pockhout (NL); gwajak (PL); guaiac (RO); guayacan (ES, VE); palo santo, guayacancillo (CU, MX); Domingo- Jamaika- Panama Pockholz, Franzosenholz (DE). Code according to DIN EN 13556: GCXX. Internal code: PCK.

CITES(EU) status of protection. Listed in Annex II(B). Similar woods: Bulnesia arborea + B. sarmientoi; Chlorocardium rodiei (syn.: Ocotea rodiei); Tabebuia spp.

Geographic distribution. Mexico and Central America to Caribbean to tropical South America.

Growth rings, colour, grain, etc. Growth ring boundaries indistinct or absent. Heartwood basically olive to brown (greenish), black to green; occasionally with streaks. Sapwood distinct from heartwood colour. Sapwood mostly very narrow. Odour distinct. Wood heavy and hard (1,00–1,30 g/cm3). Surface oily. Interlocked grain present (strongly developed in narrow zones).

Hardwood vs softwood. Vessels (pores) present (= hardwood).

Vessels (pores). Wood diffuse-porous. Vessels (pores) exclusively solitary. Pores (vessels) are hardly visible in the dark heartwood on all surfaces (magnification 10x). They can be observed in the early-formed sapwood due to the deposition of dark green ingredients. Vessels small (15–68–80 µm); very few to few (5–20). Tyloses absent. Other deposits in heartwood vessels (pores) present (greenish black, often already visible in the inner sapwood), or absent (in case sapwood is mistaken for heartwood).

Axial parenchyma. Axial parenchyma present; not banded. Other macroscopically visible types of axial parenchyma: aliform (only visible in sapwood). Aliform parenchyma winged.

Rays. Rays narrow; of uniform size. Large rays commonly less than 1 mm high.

Storied structure. Storied structure present. Tiers regular (horizontal or slightly inclined); 8–10 per axial millimetre. Rays, axial parenchyma, vessels (pores) and fibres storied.

Resin canals. Normal resin canals absent.

Physical and chemical tests. Heartwood not fluorescent. Water extract not fluorescent; colourless to brown. Ethanol extract fluorescent (weakly purple); colourless to brown, or yellow. Splinter burns to charcoal (during combustion conspicuous blisters form on the wood surface).

Additional information. Germany (on behalf of the member states of European Community) (2002). CITES proposal. Inclusion of Guaiacum spp. in Appendix II in accordance with Article II, paragraph 2(b). • pck.jpg. Guaiacum spp. (Pockholz, Lignum Vitae). Transverse section ca. 10x. Tangential surface, natural size. • pck-pal-ver.jpg. Guaiacum spp. and Bulnesia spp. are externally (colour, weight) very similar. However, Bulnesia spp. has smaller and much more numerous vessels grouped in radial or diagonal multiples and clusters. Moreover, Bulnesia spp. have a less oily wood surface. • pck-gre.jpg. Guaiacum spp. (Pockholz, Lignum Vitae). Chlorocardium rodiei (Greenheart). Despite the similar external appearance the timbers of Chlorocardium rodiei and Guaiacum spp. can be easily distinguished. As opposed to Guaiacum spp. the vessels of Chlorocardium rodiei are evenly distributed, larger, filled with tyloses and partially grouped; the wood rays are not storied. • pck-lap.jpg. Guaiacum spp. (Pockholz, Lignum Vitae). Tabebuia spp. (Ipé, Lapacho). As opposed to Guaiacum spp. the vessels of Tabebuia spp. are much more numerous, evenly distributed, partially grouped in radial multiples and often filled with tyloses; the vessels are frequently filled with white or yellow gums.


The interactive key allows access to the character list, illustrations, full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting specified attributes, summaries of attributes within groups of taxa, and geographical distribution.

Cite this publication as: ‘Richter, H.G., Gembruch, K., and Koch, G. 2014 onwards. CITESwoodID: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. In English, French, German, and Spanish. Version: 16th May 2014. delta-intkey.com’.

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