The Ceiba Pentadra aka Cotton or Kapok tree is a tropical tree that is native to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and Northern South America. Here are ten interesting things about this tree:
1.) Kapok is the most used common name for the tree and may also refer to the cotton obtained from its seed pods.
2.) In Maya Mythology, the Ceiba tree is a sacred symbol.
3.) The tree grows to 200–230 ft tall and has a very substantial trunk up to 10 ft in diameter with buttresses. The trunk and many of the larger branches are often but not always crowded with very large, robust simple thorns.
4.) Adult trees produce several hundred 15 cm seed pods. The pods contain seeds surrounded by a fluffy, yellowish fibre that is a mix of lignin and cellulose.
5.) The silky fibers that disperse the seeds are too small for weaving but make great stuffing for bedding and life preservers. Soaps can be made from the oils in the seeds.
6.) The bark decoction has been used as a diuretic, aphrodisiac, and to treat headache, as well as type II diabetes. It is also used as an additive to some versions of the hallucinogenic drink Ayahuasca.
7.) The flowers of the tree are an important source of nectar and pollen for honeybees.
8.) Native tribes along the Amazon River harvest the kapok fibre to wrap around their blowgun darts. The fibres create a seal that allows the pressure to force the dart through the tube.
9.) The tree is widely spread around the world and occupies an important niche in the ecosystem of a rainforest.
10.) This majestic tree has many uses for humans. Its wood is lightweight and porous; good for making carvings, coffins and dugout canoes.
Chaa Creek blog