Club Gaïac is a special project created by Les Fruits de Mer to celebrate the Gaïac/Lignum Vitae, one of the island’s most wonderful native trees. Currently considered to be endangered due to overharvesting for its incredibly strong wood, we are hoping to raise public awareness about this beautiful heritage tree and plant new trees, weaving the island’s natural heritage back into the urban fabric of today.
The Gaïac is a fascinating tree both for its role in the natural ecosystem and its long history of use by man. As part of this project, we will endeavor to learn more about the Gaïac and share that here, including known historical uses of this tree on St. Martin and any presence of the Gaïac in the archaeological history of the island. For now, we are offering a few links with some interesting background on this tree.
- IUCN – Our Gaïac, Guaiacum officinale, at IUCN with informatio about the tree’s range and conservation status.
- University of Florida – A fact sheet about the Gaïac, including an overview of its characteristics and many wonderful images.
- St. John Historical Society – A fascinating account of some of the uses of the tree, including misguided and possibly dangerous use as medicine.
And an old calypso tune about this tree:
The Gaïac is a slow-growing tree, but it is also very hardy. It can survive in dry, sandy or salty areas. Adult trees produce thousands of seeds, which readily germinate when using the proper technique. Join us as we learn how to germinate seeds, grow seedlings, transplant them to permanent homes and care for them as they grow. By working together to experiment with different techniques and document what works, we can make growing Gaïac easier here on St. Martin and also help others who want to grow them on other islands.