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The Gumbo-limbo is a dioecious tree of alternate imparipinnate leaves, small flowers, and resinous, peeling bark (Gilman and Watson 2011). Its most distinguishing feature is the frequent shedding of a paper-like, semi transparent red bark. The Gumbo-limbo ranges from the dry and humid primary and secondary forests of California and Florida to Argentina, generally below 1,100 m (Zuchowski 2005; Stevens 1983). It is semi-deciduous and manages to photosynthesize year round by using chloroplasts under the surface of the bark (Stevens 1983). The tree can reach up to 30 m tall in full sun or partial shade. Blooming occurs during spring in temperate zones and April to May in the tropics (Stevens 1983; USDA). The flowers of the Gumbo-limbo are 1-2 mm in diameter and grow in racemes from branch terminals. Female and male flowers are green, miniature, plain and look alike (Gilman and Watson 2011). However, the female has vestigial stamens and male flowers are able to produce nectar earlier during the day and for a longer period of time (Stevens 1983). Flowers attract Trigona, Hypotrigona, flies, ants, and some small cerambycid beetles. Once pollinated, flowers produce small, oval, red drupes that grow to full size within a week. Gumbo-limbo releases about 6,000 fruits which stay on the tree for eight months before ripening and falling in February to April in the tropics and during summer in temperate zones (Stevens 1983). Seed dispersers include Cebus capucinus (White-faced monkey), Ateles geoffryoi (Spider monkey), Sciurus variegatoides (squirrel), and several species of birds (Stevens 1983). The resin, bark, and leaves are used for home medicines to remedy sicknesses ranging from asthma to treating syphilis (Zuchowski 2005).



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