Plant: Small trees or shrubs to 6 m high, the outer bark of the main trunk exfoliating in strips (sometimes in sheets); twigs maroon to reddish brown, with abundant aromatic, transparent resin Leaves: 1-5(-10) cm long, 0.7-2(-3) cm wide; petiole ca. 0.5-2 cm long; leaflets (5-)11-23(-29), (2-)3-10(-16) mm long, (0.8-)1-2.5(-3.5) mm wide, narrowly oblong to linear (rarely lanceolate), the margins entire (rarely irregularly dentate), the terminal leaflet sometimes orbicular, equal to or shorter than the laterals INFLORESCENCE: panicle, 0.8-2 cm long Flowers: small; sepals in ours light green to slightly reddish, triangular, as many as petals, 1-2 mm long (in ours), basally connate, valvate; petals in ours reflexed at anthesis, white-cream colored (in ours) to pale yellow, greenish or reddish, lanceolate, valvate, 3-4 mm long (in ours), 3 (-5) in pistillate flowers, (3-)5 in staminate flowers; stamens in ours about twice the number of petals, in two whorls, inserted in the base of the nectar-disc, mostly smaller and sterile in pistillate flowers, the filaments ca. 1 mm long, the anthers 1.5-2 mm long; nectar-disc annular, 6-10 lobed, light yellowish-cream (in ours); pistil with 2 or in ours 3 carpels with stigma lobes and locules equalling carpels in number, the style short; ovules 2 per locule Fruit: with 1 valve per carpel, in ours purplish-green, 5-7 mm long, 5-6 mm wide; peduncle recurved; SEEDS at maturity with a thin orangish-red aril (in ours), 5-6 mm long Misc: Rocky slopes and canyons; 150-1000 m (500-3200 ft); (May)Jun-July(Aug, Oct) Notes: bark peeling and gnarled References: A. Salywon. Burseraceae. JANAS 32:29-31.ASU specimens.
Common Name: elephant tree Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Tree General: Round topped, small tree or shrub to 10 m tall, the outer bark exfoliating in strips, thin but extensive, twigs maroon to reddish brown, with aromatic, transparent resin. Leaves: Alternate, pinnate 3-8 cm long or more, the rachis narrowly winged, 0.7-2 cm wide, on petiole 0.5-2 cm long, 7-35 leaflets, oblong to linear, margins entire, 3-10 mm long, 1-2.5 mm wide, the terminal leaflet orbicular, equal to or shorter than the laterals. Flowers: Appearing before leaves on peduncles 1-3 cm long, 1-4 flowered, slender pedicels 3-5 mm long, 5 sepals light green to reddish, ovate, about 1 mm long, glabrous, the petals 5, 3-4 mm long, white to cream or pale yellow, lanceolate. Fruits: Drupes 3-angled, glabrous with yellowish seeds. Ecology: Found on rocky slopes and in canyons from 500-3,500 ft (152-1067 m), flowers from June-July. Distribution: Ranges across southwestern Arizona into Sonora and into Baja California, and further south to Zacatecas. Notes: Distinctive with its reddish bark that looks bulging with the bark peeling in thin strips, can be confused initially as some kind of Fabaceae, but the flowers make the distinction obvious. Ethnobotany: Used for skin diseases, used to make coil baskets, and used ceremonially as a good luck charm. Etymology: Bursera is named for Joachim Burser (1583-1649) a German botanist, while microphylla means small leaved. Synonyms: None Editor: SBuckley 2011