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Native Plant Database

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Bursera microphylla

Bursera microphylla A. Gray

Elephant tree, Elephant-tree

Burseraceae (Frankincense Family)

Synonym(s):

USDA Symbol: bumi

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Elephant-tree is an aromatic, tree-like shrub, from 3- 15 ft. in height, with crooked, tapering branches that suggest the shape of an elephant’s trunk. Aromatic shrub or tree with short, very thick, sharply tapered trunk with stout, crooked, tapering branches and a widely spreading but sparse, open crown. Young branches are smooth, reddish-brown; the older bark exfoliates in flakes. Pinnate leaves are deciduous. Small flowers are followed by a hanging, drupe-like fruit.

As the common name suggests, the stout trunk and branches recall the legs and trunk of an elephant. The northernmost representative of a small tropical family, it is very susceptible to frost; young plants are killed back by cold weather. The innermost bark exudes a reddish sap used as dye and tannin.

 

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Pinnate
Fruit Type: Drupe
Fruit:
Size Class: 12-36 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug
Bloom Notes: Creamy-white.

Distribution

USA: AZ , CA
Native Distribution: S.w. AZ, s.e. CA & n.w. Mex.
Native Habitat: Arid, rocky slopes to 2500 ft.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Dry, limestone soils.
Conditions Comments: Fairly inconspicuous flowers bloom in June.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:

Tohono Chul Park, Inc. - Tucson, AZ

Additional resources

USDA: Find Bursera microphylla in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Bursera microphylla in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Bursera microphylla

Metadata

Record Last Modified: 2007-01-01
Research By: TWC Staff

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