Bursera microphylla, elephant tree

Bursera microphylla leaves
Bursera microphylla trunk


Seri Coast, Sonora
29° 19' 18.2172" N, 112° 14' 20.67" W
Ragged Top, Arizona
32° 26' 51.4932" N, 111° 29' 33.6876" W
Cabeza Prieta, Arizona
32° 5' 58.1748" N, 113° 21' 30.5244" W
Near Quitovac, Sonora
31° 30' 59.9544" N, 112° 46' 53.796" W

This is a more desert adapted Bursera. Most Sonoran Burseras grow in thornscrub or tropical deciduous forest where there are prolonged periods without rain, but there is always a reliable growing season during the monsoons. Bursera microphylla (and to a lesser extent, Bursera hindsiana) grow in extreme aridity.

This tree has a very succulent trunk (thus the name elephant tree), which stores water. It has small, pinnate leaves that are drought deciduous. This tree was and is important for a variety of practical and ceremonial uses of native people within its range.

Bursera microphylla is abundant in the central gulf coast sub-division of the Sonoran Desert, but is otherwise occasional, preferring warm south-facing slopes, rocky areas, and small desert canyons. It can withstand some freezing, but is limited in northward distribution by cold.

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