Bulnesia sarmientoi is a tree that inhabits a part of the Gran Chaco area in South America, around the Argentina-Bolivia-Paraguay border. Its common name is palo santo ; in some places it is called ibiocai, and in the trade also known as vera or verawood. It may also appear named as 'Paraguay lignum vitae''', since it has properties and uses similar to the lignum vitae trees of genus Guaiacum.Bulnesia sarmientoi, known commercially as Argentine Lignum Vitae, is related to but not the same as Bulnesia arborea, known commercially as Verawood. Neither Bulnesia variety is genetically related to genuine lignum vitae, which is of genus Guaiacum. Bulnesia sarmientoiheartwood is brown, black, and green (varying in color from light olive green to chocolate brown), with streaks. The sapwood is mostly thin and light yellow. The basic specific gravity of this wood is between 0.92 and 1.1 g/cm.
Palo santo is employed for engraving work and for the making of durable wooden posts. From its wood, also, a type of oil known as oil of guaiac (or guayacol) is produced, to be used as an ingredient for perfumes. Its resin can be obtained by means of organic solvents, and is employed to make varnishes and dark paints.
Palo santo is appreciated for the skin-healing properties of its essence and also because it provides good charcoal and a high quality timber. It ignites easily despite being so dense, and produces a fragrant smoke. Natives of the Chaco region employ the bark to treat stomach problems. Small pieces of the wood are also used as a form of natural incense in spiritual rituals.
The best known species in the genus is Bulnesia arborea; its wood is traded together with that of Bulnesia sarmientoi.
ReferencesCommercial timbers: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval by H. G. Richter and M. J. Dallwitz Catalogo Web de especies forestales'' - Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias, Universidad Nacional de Asuncion (in Spanish)
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