Bursera sp. is a deciduous tree or shrub probably native to Southwestern United States or Mexico. The genus has nearly 100 species native to North, Central and South America. We are not sure which species we have. Our plant is 26 years old and only 2 feet (60 cm) tall. The pinnate leaves reach 3 inches (7.7 cm) long and have 7-9 leaflets with a winged rachis. When the leaves are crushed they have a very strong turpentine odor. The trunk is reddish-gray with a smooth bark. Branches and twigs are dark red. They are very easy to grow and make excellent bonsai subjects.
Blooming: In the greenhouse, our plants bloom in spring with very small white flowers in terminal panicles. Individual flower are about 0.25 inches (6 mm) across. They are not particularly showy.
Culture: Bursera need full sun to partial shade with a well-drained soil mix. We use a soil mix consisting of equal parts of sand and loam with small gravel added to ensure good drainage. The plants are well watered and allowed to dry thoroughly before watering again. We fertilize them monthly with a balanced fertilizer. They are very drought resistant. During the winter months, the plants are allowed to go dormant and they are watered very sparingly. The night time temperatures are never allowed to go below 50°F (10° C).
Propagation: Bursera is propagated from cuttings and from seed when available.
Bursera sp. was featured as Plant of the Week August 11-17, 2006.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.