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Bursera microphylla A. Gray

Elephant tree

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderSapindalesIncludes citrus; maples, horse-chestnuts, lychees and rambutans; mangos and cashews; frankincense and myrrh; mahogany and neem
FamilyBurseraceaeThe torchwood family, the frankincense and myrrh family, or simply the incense tree family—over 500 species of tropical trees and shrubs
GenusBurseraAfter botanist Joachim Burser (1583-1649)

About plant names...

The elephant tree is native to northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. It is related to frankincense and myrrh. Although endangered in the wild, it is popular as a bonsai plant.

Identification: Small tree, 12-15' (3.7-4.6 m) high. Foliage has a pleasant odor reminiscent of orange and pine, leaves are pinnate. Young branches have a purple color, changing to gray or white, and flaky and papery, as they grow.

Bursera microphylla (elephant tree)

By Glenn and Martha Vargas © California Academy of Sciences.

Bursera microphylla (elephant tree)

Pinnate leaves. By Miwasatoshi.

Online References:

Bursera microphylla on Tom Chester’s Plant Species of the Borrego Desert

Bursera microphylla on botanyphoto.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca

Bursera microphylla at George and Audrey DeLange's Arizona wildflower site

Bursera microphylla on CalPhotos

Bursera microphylla at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Sonoran Desert Digital Library

Bursera microphylla on Desert-tropicals.com

Bursera microphylla at the Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation

Bursera microphylla on Wikipedia


Bursera microphylla description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Bursera microphylla (elephant tree)

2/17/2007 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Cali­fornia

Bursera microphylla (elephant tree)

Male. · 2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Cali­fornia

Bursera microphylla (elephant tree)

Male. · 2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Cali­fornia


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