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.
The Silk Floss Tree belongs to the same family as the baobab and the kapok. The trunk of the Silk Floss Tree is bottle-shaped, generally bulging in its lower third, measuring up to 7 ft in girth. The thick conical prickles store water for dry times. In younger trees, the trunk is green due to its high chlorophyll content, which makes it capable of performing photosynthesis when leaves are absent; with age it turns to gray.
Common Name: Silk Floss Tree
Botanical Name: Ceiba speciosa, formerly Chorisia speciosa
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
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
Sources (“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”): AMERICAN HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY A-Z ENCYCLOPEDIA OF GARDEN PLANTS; FLOWERING TREES OF FLORIDA