boojum tree

boojum tree

[boo-juhm]
noun
a tree, Idria columnaris, native to Baja California, having spreading spiny branches, deciduous leaves, and yellow flowers.
Also called cirio.


Origin:
1960–65; after the boojum, an imaginary creature invented by Lewis Carroll in the poem The Hunting of the Snark (1876)

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Encyclopedia Britannica
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boojum tree

(Idria columnaris), tree that is the only species of its genus, in the family Fouquieriaceae. The boojum tree is an unusual plant found native only in the deserts of Baja California and Sonora, Mexico. Fancifully, it resembles a slender upside-down carrot, up to 15 metres (50 feet) tall and covered with spiny twigs that bear yellowish flowers in hanging clusters. As with its relative the ocotillo, the small leaves fall early, leaving the greenish stems to carry out food-producing photosynthesis. The swollen trunk base is often hollow and provides a habitat for honeybees; the wood is somewhat spongy and retains water. The boojum tree is sometimes planted in southern California and Arizona as a landscape curiosity; small plants can be grown indoors

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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