PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Gumbo Limbo

The Gumbo Limbo is a most unusual tree because of its red, shiny, peeling bark – which earned it the favored nickname of “tourist tree”. It is also a south Florida native, although south Florida is at the northern limits of its native distribution. Most Gumbo Limbo trees (known to science as Bursera simaruba) reach little more than 35 feet in height, but some are known to reach as much as 80 feet. This tree is found where hurricanes are found – and it has adapted well to survive hurricane winds. It develops a solid supportive root system, has somewhat open, spreading, very flexible limbs, and quickly regrows leaves after they have been ripped off by storms. A great diversity of wildlife feeds on Gumbo Limbo fruit throughout its range in Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico, and the northern coast of Central America.