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You are here: Home > Island Paradise > Galapagos Plant Life > The Palo Santo Tree

The Galapagos Palo Santo Tree


Galapagos Palo Santo Tree

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Scientific Name: Burserea Graveolens
Order:
Sapindales
Family:
BURSERACEAE
Genre:
Burserea
Species:
graveolens


The Palo Santo tree (Spanish for “holy stick”) is a prevalent tree variety in the arid zones of the Galapagos Islands and commonly seen during any of our Galapagos cruises. It is most commonly seen at Tower Island and at North Seymour Island. The tree can be distinguished by its whitish gray bark and its bright green leaves that are present only during the wet season.

Palo Santo trees inhabit several regions of South America, including Bolivia, Paraguay, northern Argentina and the Mato Grosso region of Brazil. It is also very common on the coastal region of Ecuador and used mainly for hand crafting and to produce incense principally for religious ceremonies (hence the name). Most recently, the extraction of oil from this tree has become very popular for use in many modern cosmetics.

As a local custom in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, Palo Santo incense is used against the “bad energy” in people’s homes, which many even consider to be a clinical disease. The incense is believed to have special characteristics that rid the places where the wood is lit of bad energy and evil spirits. The common local saying in Spanish goes: “Palo santo para limpiar tu casa de la mala energia, Palo Santo para la buena suerte”, which translates to: “Palo Santo to clean your house of bad energy, Palo Santo for good luck.



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