Nuxia verticillata is tall tree endemic to the Mascarenes which can exceed 15 meters in height. It is characterized by a tortuous, cracked trunk. Its whitish bark tends to peel off. Leaves occur in whorls of three, with red leaf stalks and square stems. The fragrant flowers found in clusters vary in colour from white to purplish pink.
Nuxia verticillata is endemic to the Mascarene Islands. It grows mainly in the intermediate forests, and upland wet forest and heath. The seeds are usually lodged in fern trunks, which facilitates germination, but it is difficult to find young plants in the wild. This species is declining due the habitat loss and degradation of the native vegetation.
The bois maigre is considered ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red listing and the population is under supervision in forest management and restoration. The propagation of this species in the nursery is difficult, germination is better in the wild.
The vertical cracks and twisted trunk resemble the exposed ribs of a very lean person, hence the vernacular name of lean wood.