Burseraceae, Bursera simaruba, Gumbo-Limbo – Jalisco, Mexico
Bursera simaruba, also known as Gumbo Limbo, Indio Desnudo (naked indian), or Gringo Quemado (burned gringo), depending on who you ask. Native to the tropical regions of the Americas, is a member of the Burseraceae family, related to such interesting species as Pilinut (Canarium ovatum), an high quality edible nut from the Philippines, and Torote (B. microphylla). I took this photo in Jalisco, Mexico.
B. simaruba can grow about 30 m tall, but can take on a wide variety of forms, depending on its habitat, exposure to wind and precipitation, and so forth. It is adapted to a wide range of soils and habitats. It is considered to be highly wind tolerant and is plated in hurricane-prone regions for this reason. The resin is used as a glue, varnish and incense. Interestingly, B. simaruba wood is traditionally used in the fabrication of carousel horses in the USA. The fruit is a popular bird forage and is an important source of food for winter migrant birds from N. America.
B. simaruba is very easy to propagate, growing readily from seed or large cuttings. It is often seen used as a living fence post. The tree’s rapid growth, ease and low cost of propagation, and ecological versatility makes it highly recommended as a pioneer tree in reforestation initiatives, even of degraded habitats.