|Kapok planted in Honolulu, Hawai'i|
Ceiba pentandra is a tropical tree of the order Malvales and the family Malvaceae (previously separated in the family Bombacaceae), native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, northern South America, and (as the variety C. pentandra var. guineensis) to tropical west Africa. A somewhat smaller variety is found throughout southern Asia and the East Indies. Kapok is the most used common name for the tree and may also refer to the cotton-like fluff obtained from its seed pods. The tree is cultivated for the seed fibre, particularly in south-east Asia, and is also known as the Java cotton, Java kapok, silk-cotton, samauma, or ceiba.
- English – Kapok, ceiba, white silk-cotton tree
- Chinese - Mumian - 木棉
- Haitian Creole – Mapou
- Spanish – Ceiba, lupuna (Peru)
- Portuguese – Sumaúma (Portugal), samaúma (Brazil), mafumeira (Brazil), ocá (São Tomé and Príncipe), poilão (Guinea-Bissau and Portugal).
- French – Fromager
- Surinamese – Kankantrie
- Hindi – Safed semal - सफ़ेद सेमल
- Manipuri – মোৰেহ তেৰা - Moreh tera
- Malayalam – Panji maram പഞ്ഞി മരം
- Tamil – Ilavam இலவம்
- Telugu – Tellaburaga
- Tagalog/Filipino – Bulak or bulac
- Marathi – Samali
- Kannada – Dudi
- Sanskrit – Kutashalmali
- Bengali – শ্ৱেত সিমল - Shwet simul
- Assamese – শিমলু - Simolu
- Samoan – Vavae
- Khmer - ផ្លែគរ
- Sinhala – Kotta
- Ashante, Twi and Fanteen – Onyãã, or onyina
- Mandingo – Banã, bãnda (Dioula), bantã (Malinké), banti
- Indonesian – Randu/kapuk randu
- Odia – Semili tula
- Yoruba – Araba
- Malay – Kekabu
- Thai — นุ่น
- Vietnamese – Cây gòn
- Yucatec Maya – Ya'axche (modern); yaxche (colonial/archaic)
The tree grows to 240 ft (73 m), as confirmed by climbing and tape drop with reports of Kapoks up to 252 feet (77 meters) Trunks can often be up to 3 m (9.8 ft) in diameter above the extensive buttresses. The very largest individuals, however, can be 19 feet (5.8 meters) thick or more above the buttresses.
The buttress roots can be clearly seen in photographs extending 40 to 50 feet (12 to 15 meters) up the trunk of some specimens and extending out from the trunk as much as 65 feet (20 meters) and then continuing below ground to a total length of 165 feet (50 meters)
The trunk and many of the larger branches are often crowded with large simple thorns. These major branches, usually 4 to 6 in number, can be up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) thick and form a crown of foliage as much as 201 feet (61 meters) in width. The palmate leaves are composed of 5 to 9 leaflets, each up to 20 cm (7.9 in) long.
The referenced reports make it clear that C. pentandra is among the largest trees in the world.
Kapok fibre is light, very buoyant, resilient, resistant to water, but it is very flammable. The process of harvesting and separating the fibre is labour-intensive and manual. It is difficult to spin, but is used as an alternative to down as filling in mattresses, pillows, upholstery, zafus, and stuffed toys such as teddy bears, and for insulation. It was previously much used in life jackets and similar devices until synthetic materials largely replaced the fibre. The seeds produce an oil that is used locally in soap and can be used as fertilizer.
Ceiba pentandra bark decoction has been used as a diuretic, aphrodisiac, and to treat headache, as well as type II diabetes. It is used as an additive in some versions of the psychedelic drink Ayahuasca.
Kapok seed oil
A vegetable oil can be pressed from kapok seeds. The oil has a yellow colour and a pleasant, mild odour and taste, resembling cottonseed oil. It becomes rancid quickly when exposed to air. Kapok oil is produced in India, Indonesia and Malaysia. It has an iodine value of 85–100; this makes it a nondrying oil, which means that it does not dry out significantly when exposed to air. Kapok oil has some potential as a biofuel and in paint preparation.
Religion and folklore
According to the folklore of Trinidad and Tobago, the Castle of the Devil is a huge kapok growing deep in the forest in which Bazil the demon of death was imprisoned by a carpenter. The carpenter tricked the devil into entering the tree in which he carved seven rooms, one above the other, into the trunk. Folklore claims that Bazil still resides in that tree.
Kapok bark (with a black-hooded oriole)
- "Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn. — The Plant List". Theplantlist.org. Retrieved 2016-11-17.
- "Ceiba pentandra – Kapok Tree". Flowersofindia.net. Retrieved 2016-11-17.
- "Red kapok flowers, as red as fire". China Daily. 2 April 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
- "Ayurvedic Plants of Sri Lanka: Plants Details". Instituteofayurveda.org. Retrieved 2016-11-17.
- F.R. Irvine, Woody Plants of Ghana, Oxford University Press: London 1961
- Maurice Delafosse, La langue mandingue et ses dialects (Malinké, Bambara, Dioula), Paris 1929, s.v. fromager.
- <anonymous> (May 22, 2010). "Very huge tree in Thailand". Retrieved May 5, 2011.
- David G. Campbell, LAND OF GHOSTS (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 2005) p. 129.
- http://www.drwren.com/photo_album/Tambop00/033.htm with comments at www.drwren.com/peru/journal.html#0804
- Dr. Al C. Carder, FOREST GIANTS OF THE WORLD (Markham, Ontario: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1995) p. 145 (Photo plate 123 with caption).
- Peter A. Furley D. Phil. and Walter W. Newey Ph.D., GEOGRAPHY OF THE BIOSPHERE (London: Butterworth, 1983) p. 279.
- Michael Bright et al, 1000 WONDERS OF NATURE (London: Reader's Digest Assoc., 2001) p. 332.
- Linda Gamlin and Anuschka de Rohan, MYSTERIES OF THE RAINFOREST (Pleasantville, N.Y.: Reader's Digest Assoc., 1998) p. 79.
- Ivan T. Sanderson and David Loth, IVAN T. SANDERSON'S BOOK OF GREAT JUNGLES (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1965) p. 78.
- Dr. Al C. Carder, GIANT TREES OF WESTERN AMERICA AND THE WORLD (Madeira Park, British Columbia: Harbour Publishing, 2005) p. 129. Measured by Prof. Robert van Pelt in 2003.
- Kapok seed oil From the German Transport Information Service
- Hellmuth, Nicholas (March 2011). "Ceiba pentandra" (PDF). Revue Magazine.
- "Tobago's Avatar – 'The tree of life'". Tobago News. 2012-03-01. Archived from the original on 2013-06-30.
- Philpott, Don (2003). Landmark Puerto Rico. Hunter Publishing, Inc. p. 14. ISBN 9781901522341.
- Berry, Bruce. "Equatorial Guinea". CRW Flags. Retrieved 2013-04-27.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ceiba pentandra.|
|Wikispecies has information related to Ceiba pentandra|
- Kapok Fibers
- Seed Fibers
- Germplasm Resources Information Network: Ceiba pentandra
- Ceiba pentandra in Brunken, U., Schmidt, M., Dressler, S., Janssen, T., Thombiano, A. & Zizka, G. 2008. West African plants – A Photo Guide. Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg, Frankfurt/Main.