Lignum vitae


Lignum vitae (Latin for "wood of life") is very hard and naturally oily. On the Janka Scale of Hardness it is second only to Australian Buloke in hardness with a rating of 4500 (white oak rates at 1360, black walnut at 1010, and mahogany at 800). It is the national tree of the Bahamas as well as the national flower of Jamaica. Lignum vitae grows best in dry areas in tropical climates.

Wood grain of the Lignum Vitae tree


Lignum Vitae's hardness and self-lubricating qualities make it an ideal material for making bearings. It was used for the aft main shaft strut bearings for SS Nautilus (SSN-571), the world's first nuclear powered submarine.

SS Nautilus

It is currently a favorite material for making bearings for hydro-electric turbine generators, having a service life estimate of up to 60 years.

Lignum Vitae bearing

Legend has it that Merlins magic wand was made from lignum vitae wood.