Bursera (2009)

PhotoBy Eric Driskill (August 2009)

Bursera is a genus of about 100 species of flowering shrubs and trees named after the 17th century Danish botanist Joachim Burser (1583-1639). Burseras are found in the Americas from the southern United States to Argentina.

The wood of many of the Bursera species are odoriferous, and some indigenous people harvest the sap. Most species have thickened trunks. The bark, which is decorative and often peeling on most burseras, is enough to add one to your collection.

Most Bursera species cannot take heavy frost and are often deciduous in winter or in time of drought. Propagation is by seed or cuttings. In habitat, burseras can grow into a nice tree, but in pot culture and with trimming and root restriction, most species lend themselves to bonsai treatment. Species growing in harsh and wind-swept locations are often forced to grow hugging the ground.

Several species you may want to add to your collection are B. fagaroides, B. hindsiana, B. microphylla, B. odorata and B. schlechtendalii.

Burseras prefer full sun to partial shade as well as a well-draining soil mix. Plants should be grown hard and kept in small pots to encourage stout proportions. An Internet search will quickly provide you with images of plants carefully pruned into amazing specimen subjects.