Everyone knows that a tree's leaves are responsible for photosynthesis. Except. Um. The new bark of the Gumbo-Limbo tree can also do photosynthesis! For about the first year of a new limb's life its bark is green, and during this time it can do photosynthesis. Then the bark turns red. Makes me wonder if there are other trees that are able to do this as well.
The Gumbo-Limbo tree goes by other names too: copperwood, chaca and turpentine tree. Tampa, FL is about as far north as its native range. It is native to Mexico, the Caribbean, Brazil and Venezuela. Its nickname in Florida is the "tourist tree" because its reddish bark is thin and easily flakes off -- similar to the sunburned skin of tourists. Its bark puts me in mind of "paper bark" trees such as the paperbark maple.
This tree is remarkable for its sturdiness. It can withstand hurricane winds, drought and is salt-tolerant. Its wood is easily carved and has been used for carving carousel animals. It can grow to 60 feet tall.
So where did it get its name? The sticky mud of the Mississippi delta is sometimes called 'gumbo' and the sap of the trip is also sticky, so perhaps there is a link there.
Ruthie photographs trees because she loves them.