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. A close look at the gumbo limbo tree reveals many adaptations to the South Florida environment it thrives in. Its roots are shallow, often snaking across the surface, taking advantage of the high water table and invading and widening cracks in limestone. Gumbo limbo trees are deciduous, dropping their large compound leaves during drought conditions and in the fall, but also often losing them during tropical storms. No problem for the tree. Its thin bark, especially the green bark of limbs of the current year is capable of photosynthesis, allowing the gumbo limbo to rebound quickly. Gumbo limbo trees produce rather inconspicuous greenish flowers in late winter, but it takes a year for the seed pods to mature. The ripe red seeds are found in early summer. Birds love the fruit of gumbo limbo and aid the tree in its dispersal, dropping seeds with a bit of fertilizer wherever they go. The gumbo limbo is a hardy tree that adds much to South Florida environments. It's capable of surviving drought, wind, and poor soils, but it doesn't survive cold. Its northern limit in Florida is at about Tampa.
'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.