Elephant Tree [Bursera microphylla Gray]

Elephant Tree [Bursera microphylla Gray]

Listing CNPS List 2 R-E-D Code 3-2-1

State/Federal. Status -- None BURSERACEAE Jun.-Jul.

Global Rank G4 State Rank S2.3

Distribution: San Diego County, Imperial County; Arizona; Baja California, Mexico

Habitat: Sonoran Desert Scrub is the preferred habitat of the distinctive Elephant Tree. At Fish Creek the habitat of this shrub is largely desert alluvial fan with Psorothamnus spinosus, while in Indian Gorge (Acid Igneous Rock Land) this Bursera was seen growing on a rocky, talus slope.

Known Sites: A protected site near Fish Creek is available to the public for viewing this unusual "Elephant Tree." Rare individuals, such as at Indian Gorge are sparsely scattered in the desert foothills. Herbarium specimens examined were from Fish Creek across from the Gypsum Mine, 0.5 mile southwest of the mouth of Canebrake Canyon, at Mountain Palm Springs, Bow Willow Canyon, and between Fish Creek and Carrizo Gorge. It is also reported from In-Koh-Pah Gorge. Data Base reports for San Diego County are at Torote Canyon in the Tierra Blanca Mountains, between Canebrake and Torote Canyons about 1 mile east southeast of Crawford Ranch, at Alta Bisnaga Wash about 2.5 miles northwest of Agua Caliente Springs, Alma Wash on the east side of the Vallecito Mountains, Bow Willow Canyon about 0.5 mile north of the Ranger Station, Canebrake about 0.5 mile west of Sweeney Pass Road, approximately 3.5 miles southwest of the "Elephant Tree" visitor area in first canyon of Fish Creek Wash, 1.5 miles west of Villager Peak in the Santa Rosa Mountains; also along the east-bound lane of Interstate 8 and 0.5 mile west of Myers Creek Bridge Crossing.

Fifty-three herbarium specimens from Baja California are deposited at the San Diego Natural History Museum. The range stretches southward to Cabo San Lucas. It is also reported by Shreve and Wiggins in western Sonora to east of Guaymas, and localized in southern Arizona and south to Zacatecas. It is reported by Butterwick for the South Mountains of Arizona.

Status: The Elephant Tree populations in the southern deserts are presumed stable. All U.S. populations should be protected. This species is state-listed as Highly Safeguarded in Arizona.


Copyright May 1994 Craig H. Reiser.

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