Gumbo limbo (Bursera simaruba)

The February 16 post on this blog was of another species of Bursera, the “torote” tree, native to Baja California. Today’s posting is for a Floridian species of this genus, with the common name “gumbo limbo”. It is also found throughout the Caribbean and Central America.

I first saw gumbo limbos in the wild on a trip to Florida in the 1990s, where I was impressed by their fluid trunks and distinctive peeling bark. The sap of all species of this genus is fragrant and may have medicinal properties.

I mail-ordered this tree from Bonsai Collectables in Lancaster, California along with a couple of baobabs (see the April 21 post for one of them, an Adansonia greggorii) which arrived on May 23, 2013.

August 24, 2019:
The tree today

May 23, 2013:
The tree the day it arrived, getting its first repot.

May 24, 2013:
The tree in its new pot.

August 1, 2013:
Summer growth, with a companion tomato.

January 10, 2014:
First winter after purchase.

April 12, 2014:
Nearly a year after purchase.

March 8, 2015:
Second spring after purchase. The tree is droopy from lack of water. This one requires a lot of water in spring.

Get that tree some water!

March 15, 2015:
Too late.

May 16, 2015:
New growth, the tree survived my inept watering.

May 16, 2015:
Pruned.

June 8, 2015:
Spring growth.

November 14, 2015:
Late in the growing season.

November 28, 2015:
First wiring. The broken right branch was not by design. These trees are extremely brittle. I’ve had my best wiring success on gumbo limbos with the newest growth, before it hardens off.

February 6, 2016:
This tree usually keeps its leaves through the winter, waiting until early spring to lose them.

May 28, 2016:
Bare-rooted, pruned, and planted in its current pot.

May 28, 2016:
Reduced height.

October 16, 2016:
Still putting out new growth in fall.

March 5, 2017:
The tree has lost its leaves for the season.

March 11, 2017:
I attempted to get more movement in the branches.

April 8, 2017:
First new growth of the season.

August 23, 2017:
Ugly upper straight section of trunk without taper on photo left.

August 23, 2017:
Straight section removed.

October 21, 2017:
New growth in October.

December 9, 2017:
The tree in winter.

February 18, 2018:
Branch-pruned.

March 3, 2018:
Previous season’s leaves.

June 10, 2018:
A new season’s growth taking off.

June 12, 2018:
Pruned.

October 26, 2018:
Spreading canopy.

June 8, 2019:
Last year’s leaves in June.

August 24, 2019:
The tree earlier today.

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