Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. As a landscape tree, the gumbo limbo is perfect for South Florida environments. Because it's a native of the region, it's very tolerant of our soils, periodic drought conditions, some salt spray, and tropical storms. It also has few insect pests and seems quite tolerant of air pollution and poor drainage. Gumbo limbo trees are fast growing and require little care. They have a beautiful form, provide good shade, and produce colorful seed pods that last through the winter. And of course, there is that bark: thin, oily, reddish-orange, and constantly peeling; the subject of conversation anyway. The gumbo limbo might be the perfect tree for your landscaping, but don't plant them too close to sidewalks, driveways, or your foundation. Their roots are shallow, often running along the surface of the ground, thus they can interfere with mowing. They also readily push up concrete in the same way they push through South Florida's limestone to make their living.
'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.