Bombax ceiba (Semal/ Cotton tree or tree cotton/ Bombax/ Red Silk Cotton)

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J.M. Garg

Feb 5, 2008, 3:24:11 AM2/5/08
to indiantreepix
This beautiful has started flowering in Kolkata, though the pictures attached are of 2007. 
Bombax ceiba, like other tree from genus Bombax, is commonly known as cotton tree or tree cotton. The tropical tree is with straight tall trunk and its leaves are deciduous in winter. Red flowers with 5 petals are born in the spring before green leaves. Small husks raped contain fibres like cotton. Its trunk bears spikes to deter attacks by animals. Although its trunk looks good for timber, its wood is too soft for use.
The tree might be from India but widely planted in Malay, Indonesia, south China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The cotton in the husks were used a substitute of cotton. Its flower was a common ingredient in Chinese herb tea.
The Sanskrit name for this tree is Salmali. In the Rigveda, the chariot is made of Salmali (RV 10.85.20) and other woods.
Folk knowledge in Hong Kong states that soon after the tree blooms, the weather will get hotter.
The above information taken from Wikipedia link:
Bombax species are among the largest trees in their regions, reaching 30 to 40 metres in height and up to 3 metres trunk diameter. The leaves are compound with entire margins and deciduous, being shed in the dry-season. They measure 30 to 50 cm across and are palmate in shape with 5 to 9 leaflets. The calyx is deciduous, meaning it does not persist on the fruits. They bear 5 to 10 cm long red flowers between January and March while the tree is still leafless. The stamens are present in bundles in two whorls, while the staminal column lacks lobes. The ovary matures into a husk containing seeds covered by a fibre similar to that of the kapok (Ceiba pentandra) and to cotton, though with shorter fibres than cotton, that does not lend itself to spinning, making it unusable as a textile product.[2]
The above inf. taken from Wikipedia link:
With regards,
"We often ignore the beauty around us"
For my Birds, Butterflies, Trees, Lanscape pictures etc., visit
For learning about our trees & plants, please visit
Semal (Bombax ceiba) flowers in Kolkata I IMG_4116.jpg
Semal (Bombax ceiba) flowering tree in Kolkata I IMG_4143.jpg
Semal (Bombax ceiba) flowers in Kolkata I IMG_4132.jpg
Semal (Bombax ceiba)- Trunk of a Young tree in Kolkata I IMG_9725.jpg
Semal (Bombax ceiba) leaf in Kolkata I IMG_9726.jpg

J.M. Garg

Feb 6, 2008, 12:19:54 AM2/6/08
to indiantreepix

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: rohit chakravarty <>
Date: Feb 5, 2008 7:18 PM
Subject: Re: [Indiantreepix] Bombax ceiba (Semal/ Cotton tree or tree cotton/ Bombax/ Red Silk Cotton)
To: "J.M. Garg" <>


beautiful pics! Bombax is yet to flower here in nagpur. it starts flowering here by late feb and early march and that's when the rosy starlings come to nagpur as well! so its the best sight to watch pink starlings on the scarlet flowers of Bombax.

satish phadke

Feb 6, 2008, 9:50:39 AM2/6/08
to J.M. Garg, indiantreepix
Here in Pune also all the Bombax are still totally dry as if dead.Suddenly one day these beauties will start arising on it as if from nowhere.
Today I saw one flowering tree in one part of the city.??Exception
Dr. Satish Phadke
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