known as 'logwood' at 'Dem Dats Doin', the Toledo Botanical
Arborethum near Columbia Village in the Toledo District
known as 'logwood' was an important part of
Belizean history during the 1600s. Large stands of logwood along
the New River, Rio Hondo and Belize River were cut down by the
Baymen and exported during the 1700s and 1800s. Today, scattered
logwood trees are still found along these rivers, mixed with palms
and other jungle vegetation.
At Dem Dats Doin we
planted three logwood trees in 1994. They flowered and produced
thousands of seeds after about 6 years. Although it is a leguminous
tree the individual seed pods opens unlike other bean pods.
The papery thin pod splits in the middle instead of at the edges.
Haematoxylon means bloodwood,
referring to the dark red heartwood. Campechianum
refers to the coastal city of Campeche in Mexico. This thorny
tree, 20-30 feet in height, is native to tropical America and
the West Indies. Growing from thorny joints in the branches
are clusters of small pinnate leaves. Bright yellow blossoms
have five spreading petals turning to papery seed pods. The
wood is very hard and dense.
The debarked heartwood of Logwood was valued and exported for
its use as a source of dye. By the mid 1800s cheaper dyes were
discovered and Belize eventually shifted to the exportation
The actual dye from logwood is hematoxylin.
It is extracted by boiling the chips or soaking them in water
using 'washing soda'. To make the dyes colorfast, they must
be used with various mordants such as alum, acetic acid and
cream of tartar. Put simply, the mordants serve to chemically
bind the dye with the fabric/item. Different colors are produced
depending on the type of mordant and duration of the dye bath.
Colors range from bright reds, shades of blue, light lavender
to deep blue-black. Logwood dyes have been used for cotton and
woolen goods, leather, furs, silk and inks. Also stains for
Dem Dats Doin after researching information for this article
will in the very near future experiment with its logwood trees
to produce a dye/stain to repaint its veranda wood floors. Meanwhile
we export thousands of logwood seeds and recently sold the young
logwood plants in our nursery to a collector of exotic tropical