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Elephant Tree, Torote Colorado, Copal
Scientific Name: Bursera microphylla A. Gray
Family: Burseraceae
Elephant Tree, Torote Colorado, Copal (Bursera  microphylla)
Elephant Tree (Bursera microphylla), leaf and fruit, U.S.D.A. Drawing, courtesy Hunt Institute
Recommended Temperature Zone:
USDA: 9-10

Frost Tolerance: Hardy in Phoenix

Sun Exposure: Full sun

Origin: Southern California, Arizona (USA), Baja California, Sonora (Mexico)

Growth Habits: Deciduous shrub or small tree, up to 14 feet tall (4.2 m)

Watering Needs: Little water when established


The Elephant Tree has a succulent trunk. Its fruits and bark are reddish brown. The pinnate leaves are aromatic with a strong scent of camphor. It loses its leaves when the temperature becomes too cold, or the ground too dry. It is one of the least cold sensitive species of this tropical family.
The name "microphylla" comes from the Greek for "tiny leaves".
The elephant tree is protected in Arizona.

Elephant Tree, Torote Colorado, Copal (Bursera  microphylla)

Elephant Tree, Torote Colorado, Copal (Bursera  microphylla)

Blooming Habits:
The small flowers are small, white, 5-petaled, with yellow stamens, they appear in summer. The 0.25 inch long fruits (6 mm) are 3-sided and contain one seed.

Fruiting Habits:

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Desert-Tropicals is dedicated to provide gardening advice, gardening ideas, and information about flower of all kind for landscape and collections. We try to check carefully the identification of the plants on the illustrations as well as the other information from the page, but occasionally errors do occur. if you notice anything that needs to be changed please contact us. Thanks.

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