Kapok (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. The word is also used for the fibre obtained from itsseed pods. The tree is also known as the Java cotton, Java kapok, or ceiba. It is a sacred symbol in Maya mythology.
The tree grows to 60-70 m (200-230 ft) tall and has a very substantial trunk up to 3 m (10 ft) in diameter with buttresses. The trunk and many of the larger branches are densely crowded with very large, robust simple thorns. The leaves are compound of 5 to 9 leaflets, each up to 20 cm (8 in) and palm like. Adult trees produce several hundred 15 cm (6 in) seed pods. The pods contain seeds surrounded by a fluffy, yellowish fiber that is a mix oflignin and cellulose.
The fibre is light, very buoyant, resilient, highly flammable and resistant to water. 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, teddy bears, zafus and for insulation. It was previously much used in life jackets and similar devices. Man-made materials largely replaced the fibre, until recently. The seeds produce an oilused locally in soap and that can be used as fertilizer.
Took these pictures two weeks back in goregaon, Mumbai.
Kapok or White Silk Cotton or Safed Semal.
Scientific name: Ceiba Pentandra.
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