Gumbo Limbo Tree

In South Florida, we are no strangers to unknowing tourists; you know, the ones that overstay their time in the sun, quickly turning bright red, and then peeling. This behavior is what earned the Gumbo Limbo tree the nickname, “the tourist tree.” Much like a typical Miami Beach vacationer, this peculiar tree has bright red bark that peels in thin layers, exposing another layer of color underneath. This tree is commonly found in South Florida, the West Indies, tropical Mexico, Guatemala and northern South America. Because it can grow up to 60 feet tall and has a large canopy, the Gumbo Limbo tree is often planted for the nice shade it provides and the peaceful scenery it brings. This tree would be perfect for beginners with a green thumb, as it is pretty easy to care for – minimal pruning and it grows well in sun or shade. The Gumbo Limbo tree also produces a deep red fruit with a seed inside, attracting mockingbirds, vireos and several other birds that will crack it open for a snack. This “tourist tree” can be found at Zoo Miami nearby the Cuban Crocodile exhibit. For a fun fact to share with your friends and family on your next visit, you can tell them that these trees were used to make carousel animals before plastic!


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