Ceiba pentrada – the Kapok Tree

Ceiba pentrada, a member of the Malvaceae family, is known by a variety of names including Kapok, cotton tree, Ceiba, silk-cotton tree, pochote, fromager and bongo.  Its name can be translated to mean “tree with five antlers”.  Growing to heights between 150 to 200 feet, the Kapok, displaying deciduous characteristics in the winter, flowers from February to early March.  Preferring full sun and organic, rich soil the Kapok, growing predominantly in the south Florida region, is native to the Caribbean, Central and South America and the western tropics of Africa.

The Kapok is surrounded by ancient lore with the Mayan’s believing it to stand at the center of the earth, connecting the terrestrial world to the spirit-world above. The long thick vines hanging down from its spreading limbs provided a connection to the heavens for the souls that ascended them.  In addition to the lore, the Kapok is considered a medicinal tree with the seeds, leaves, resin and bark being used to treat a wide variety of maladies including dysentery, fevers, asthma, and kidney diseases.

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