Native to South Florida and the tropical offshore islands, gumbo-limbo is a large semi-evergreen tree.
It can reach sixty feet in height, but it’s usually seen smaller in landscape plantings. The soft, light-weight, and easily carved wood of gumbo-limbo was used for making carousel horses before the advent of molded plastics.
The trunk and branches are thick and are covered with resinous, smooth, peeling coppery-colored bark with an attractive, shiny, freshly-varnished appearance. The gumbo-limbo is often referred to as the "tourist tree" because the tree's bark is red and peeling, like the skin of a sun burnt tourist.
Gumbo-limbo is also considered one of the most wind-tolerant trees. This attractive tree is an excellent choice—for South Florida landscapes. Unfortunately, the gumbo-limbo is only hardy in zones 10B–11.
- Bursera simaruba: Gumbo-Limbo
- Native Trees for South Florida
- Selecting Tropical and Subtropical Trees for Wind Resistance (PDF)
- Tropical Hardwood Hammocks in Florida
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- Standout Trees
- Underappreciated Native Shade Trees