Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Silk Floss Tree

On my final posting from Reid Park Zoo, I wanted to share with you a tree that I will occassionaly see growing around town. Everytime I head over to the zoo, I check this tree out and see what it's doing.  It's another one of those unique plants that I won't be planting at our place because there's not any room for it.  This tree is a showstopper....even without its' leaves in winter, it makes an attractive tree.  Again, if you go to the South American exhibit, you'll find this tree hidden amongst the is some history on this beautiful tree that grows in random areas of the city.
Look at the thorny bark!  Talk about an alien looking tree....straight off of Avatar!
The silk floss tree (Ceiba speciosa, formerly Chorisia speciosa), is a species of deciduous tree native to the tropical and subtropical forests of South America. It has a host of local common names, such as palo borracho (in Spanish literally "drunken tree"). It belongs to the same family as the baobab and the kapok. Another tree of the Ceiba genus, C. chodatii, often receives the same common names.
The natural habitat of the floss silk tree is the north-east of Argentina, Paraguay, and southern Brazil. It is resistant to drought and moderate cold. It grows fast in spurts when water is abundant, and sometimes reaches more than 25 m in height. Its trunk is bottle-shaped, generally bulging in its lower third, measuring up to 2 m in girth. It is studded with thick conical prickles which serve to 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.
The branches tend to be horizontal and are also covered with prickles. The leaves are composed of five to seven long leaflets. The flowers are creamy-whitish in the center and pink towards the tips of their five petals. They measure 10-15 cm in diameter and their shape is superficially similar to hibiscus flowers. Their nectar is known to attract insects such as monarch butterflies, which perform pollination. C. speciosa flowers are in bloom between February and May. The flowers of the related C. chodatii are similar in form and size, but their color goes from creamy white centers to yellow tips.
The fruits are lignous ovoid pods, 20 cm long, which contain bean-sized black seeds surrounded by a mass of fibrous, fluffy matter reminiscent of cotton or silk.
Information link and source... and here:
Zones: 9-12.  Protect initially from strong sun. Once established, protect from extreme frost.  It's definitely a cool tree to have around your home or just needs a tiny amount more of attention...and is similiar to a Jacaranda's needs here in the desert southwest.  Until next time, happy gardening!

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting tree! I've never seen one before. Thanks for sharing.


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