Gumbo limbo: A rare tree with many talents and names

The Gumbo Limbo tree with its shiny red bark will grow from sea level to 2,000 feet in elevation and although popular throughout the Caribbean is rare in Hawaii. (Voltaire Moise/Special to West Hawaii Today)

The gumbo limbo, Bursera simaruba, also called the naked Indian tree in the Caribbean is hard to miss because of its reddish shiny bark. It is also referred to as the living fencepost tree since a cutting of almost any size will grow easily. It is often used as fence posts by farmers and ranchers in tropical America because it continues to grow and is resistant to termites and decay.