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GWAA

The Garden Writers Association


Last Update 03/26/11
Plant of the Month

 Ceiba speciosa, formerly Chorisia speciosa

 Silk Floss Tree

Considered one of the most beautiful trees in the world, the Silk Floss Tree is a deciduous tropical plant from Brazil and Argentina. Chorisia is a large tree which can grow to over 50 feet high with a spread as wide. Floss Silk Tree is well known for the large spikes protecting the trunk and limbs and the woody seed-pods which produce a soft silk that protects its seeds. The silk in the seeds pods was used to stuff life-jackets and pillows in an earlier time in history.

Chorisia speciosa, Floss silk Tree, Silk Floss Tree, 'Monsa' (Click for Larger View)

Chorisia speciosa flowers (Click for Larger View)

Click pictures for a closer view.

Silk Floss Tree pods (Click for Larger View)

Silk Floss Tree thorns (Click for Larger View)

Common Name:   ‘Monsa’ Floss Silk Tree, Silk Floss Tree, "Kapok tree"

Botanical Name:   Ceiba speciosa, formerly Chorisia speciosa

Family:  Bombacaceae

Plant Type:  Deciduous tree

Origin: Brazil, Argentina

Zones: 9 - 11 (saplings are sensitive to frost, but mature trees can tolerate temperatures to 20 degrees F for short periods of time).

Height:  35 to 50' -- width about the same so give it room

Rate of Growth: Fast the first couple years, then slows considerably

Salt Tolerance: Medium

Soil Requirements:  Well drained, moist, fertile humus

Water Requirements: Water moderately, less water in winter

Nutritional Requirements: Balanced liquid fertilizer monthly

Light Requirements: Full sun

Form:  Round

Leaves: Alternate, 5-7-palmate leaves

Flowers:  Open, funnel-shaped flowers in October-November

Fruits: Woody pods filled with fluffy silk

Pests:  Young plants affected by scale insects

Uses:  Specimen tree, recommended for buffer strips around parking lots or for median strip plantings in the highway, shade tree, residential street tree

Bad Habits: Leaf drop, fruit (pods) hard on lawn mowers and should be picked up before cutting turf under the tree

Cost:  $$ -- reasonable

Propagation:   sow seeds from spring to early summer

Source:  A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden PlantsFlowering Trees of Florida

 

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