SelecTree: Tree Detail

LITTLELEAF ELEPHANT TREE
Bursera microphylla

Bursera microphylla Bursera microphylla Bursera microphylla Bursera microphylla Bursera microphylla Bursera microphylla Bursera microphylla Bursera microphylla Bursera microphylla Bursera microphylla Bursera microphylla Bursera microphylla Bursera microphylla

Photo Locations: The Living Desert - Palm Desert, CA

General Notes

An aromatic shrub or small tree from the Frankincense family. Crushed leaves have the fragrance of camphor. Mexican name is Torote. Its succulent trunk and branches hold water and are thick and stout, resembling the trunk and legs of an elephant. Young branches are reddish in color that whiten with age. A striking landscape specimen adapted to desert environments. The species was names for its tiny leaves (microphylla).  Sensitive to cold. Some references suggest low tree height is maintained by frost damage to the upper canopy.

Has fragrant Leaf.

Native to California, Arizona and Mexico.

Trees may be referred to as male or female.

A Bursera microphylla in Anza Borego State Park is registered as a California Big Tree. It measures 12 feet high, with a trunk circumference of 21 inches and a crown spread of 21 feet.

Family: Burseraceae

Synonyms

Elaphrium microphyllum
Terebinthus microphylla

Additional Common Names

LITTLELEAF ELEPHANT TREE, TOROTE COLORADO, PALO COLORADO

Tree Characteristics

Erect or Spreading with a Low Canopy.

Rounded Shape.

Has Partly Deciduous foliage.

Height: 6 - 25 feet.

Width: 10 - 30 feet.

Growth Rate: 12 Inches per Year.

Longevity 50 to 150 years.

Leaves Pinnately Compound, Green, No Change, Partly Deciduous.

Flowers Inconspicuous. White or Cream to Yellow. Flowers in Summer. Has either male or female flowers (dioecious). Trees may be sold as male or female.

Reddish Brown Drupe, Small (0.25 - 0.50 inches), fruiting in Fall Wildlife use it.

Bark Gray to White, Exfoliating or Smooth.

Shading Capacity Rated as Low to Moderately Low in Leaf.

Shading Capacity Rated as Low out of Leaf.

Tree Site Conditions & Constraints

USDA Hardiness Zones 9 - 10.

Exposure Full Sun.

Well Drained Soil.

Drought tolerant.

Loam or Sand Texture.

Slightly Acidic to Slightly Alkaline Soil pH.

Health, Safety & Environmental Concerns

Branch Strength Rated as Strong.

Root Damage Potential Rated as Low.

Desirable Wildlife Plant.

Attracts Birds.

Wildlife use Fruit.

Cite this tree:
SelecTree. "Bursera microphylla Tree Record." 1995-2018. Apr 23, 2018.
< https://selectree.calpoly.edu/tree-detail/bursera-microphylla >

This tree is not part of the SelecTree Nursery Connection. If you would like to see this tree listed, or know of a nursery that sells it, please contact us at ufei@calpoly.edu.