Photographed by Bette Jackson
If you are have difficulty playing the audio click here
Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Although the name 'gumbo limbo' seems rather catchy and easy to remember, this tropical tree that is native to South Florida and the Caribbean Basin is probably best known in the United States by the colloquial name 'tourist tree'. Whenever that name is associated with the gumbo limbo tree for the first time, the listener standing before the tree erupts with a broad smile, if not an audible chuckle showing immediate understanding. The gumbo limbo tree is called the tourist tree because of its red, peeling skin. No, the gumbo limbo tree doesn't get sunburned, but its bark is very thin and it naturally peels in patches much like a human with a bad sunburn. Gumbo limbo trees can grow to 60 feet tall and two to three feet in diameter with a broad crown and large branches. Take a close look at those branches: those formed during the past year are greenish in color, those that are more than a year old take on the red that we recognize by the name 'tourist tree'.
'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.