Bursera microphylla is an odd glabrous, pachycaul shrub or low branched tree 2 - 6 (-8) m tall. It has several contorted trunks up to 30 cm in diameter and reddish branches which are swollen with water-storage tissue and covered with whitish sheets of thin, peeling bark. The stems and the finely divided, shiny green leaves are highly aromatic. It is very decorative in nature, but unluckily slow-growing in cultivation. Seedling plants lack the thickish succulent nature of trunk and branches for many years. It may leaf out in any month in response to rain, but stem growth is mainly in summer. The plants are dioecious or mostly so. The flowers, which open in summer, are tiny and inconspicuous.
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