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jerry jackson
Photographed by Bette Jackson

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Source: Gumbo Limbos 1

Length of Segment: 00:01:14

Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Among Florida's native plants are many tropical species whose ranges barely reach into the state. The gumbo limbo tree is one of these. Native from Central America and Mexico through the West Indies, the gumbo limbo tree is also an important component of South Florida hammock habitats and an important landscape plant. The name 'gumbo limbo' seems to have its origin in African American heritage and yes, it's also linked to the thick soup we call 'gumbo': soup that is made thicker and somewhat sticky by the addition of okra. The name is also linked to the thick, sticky mud called 'gumbo' of the Mississippi Delta and, of course, to chewing gum. So what is sticky about the gumbo limbo tree? Its sap. The word 'limbo' doesn't come from the English word referring to a place between heaven and hell, but apparently from the African Bantu language. The name 'gumbo limbo' is a reference to the sticky quality of the tree sap that made it useful in catching birds.

'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.

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