Monday, March 30, 2009

Sideroxylon lanuginosum


This tree's scientific name was recently changed from Bumelia lanugosa and is commonly refered to as Gum Bumelia. This plant can be identified by its teardrop-shaped leaves with fuzzy white undersides. The leaves are often arranged on spurs and in drier areas such as Central Texas, they may develop thorns. I observed many gum bumelia in the Austin area while living there. The individuals in Central Texas were rather shrubby but the ones I found in Bastrop and here in Friendswood are tall trees.

What's interesting about this species is that it belongs to a family that is largely tropical. The family Sapotaceae contains many species that produce edible fruits important in Latin America like sapote and star apple and also the tree where they get chicle gum. Bumelia produces shiny, half-inch-round fruits that are probably edible but it's the wildlife that they are important to.

This is a sapling gum bumelia growing at the base of a mature hackberry tree.

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