Bursera microphylla A. Gray
Elephant Tree, Elephant-tree
Burseraceae (Frankincense Family)
USDA Symbol: BUMI
Elephant-tree is an aromatic, tree-like shrub, from 3- 15 ft. in height, with crooked, tapering branches that suggest the shape of an elephants 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 CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Pinnate
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Class: 12-36 ft.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug
Bloom Notes: Creamy-white.
DistributionUSA: AZ , CA
Native Distribution: S.w. AZ, s.e. CA & n.w. Mex.
Native Habitat: Arid, rocky slopes to 2500 ft.
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Dry, limestone soils.
Conditions Comments: Fairly inconspicuous flowers bloom in June.
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Tohono Chul Park, Inc. - Tucson, AZ
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Bursera microphylla in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Bursera microphylla in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Bursera microphylla
MetadataRecord Modified: 2007-01-01
Research By: TWC Staff