Kapok tree Facts

Kapok tree Facts
Kapok tree, also known as ceiba tree, is deciduous tree that belongs to the mallow family. It originates from Central and South America, but it can be found in West Africa and Southeast Asia today. Kapok tree grows in tropical rainforests. Thanks to large number of seeds equipped with fine, silky fibers, kapok tree easily conquers new (especially deforested) areas. People cultivate kapok tree mostly as a source of fine fibers and wood.
Interesting Kapok tree Facts:
Kapok tree can reach 230 feet in height and 9 to 10 feet in diameter (trunk). It can grow 13 feet in height per year. Kapok tree has umbrella-shaped crown made of numerous branches arranged in horizontal tiers. Branches are covered with thorns.
Kapok tree develops palmately compound (hand-shaped) leaves composed of 5 to 9 lanceolate leaflets. Kapok tree discards its leaves during the dry season.
Kapok tree produces creamy white or pale pink flowers arranged in small clusters on the new, young branches.
Kapok tree opens its flowers during the night. Flowers emit unpleasant smell which attracts bats, main pollinators of this species.
Fruit of kapok tree is light green, woody, smooth pod filled with 200 brown seed. Each tree produces 500 to 4.000 pods per season.
Seed pods are filled with fluffy, yellowish fibers which facilitate dispersal of seed by wind.
Kapok tree provides food and shelter for many species of monkeys, birds, frogs and insects. Some frogs breed in the shallow pools of waters collected in the bromeliads (tropical plants with short stems) that grow on the kapok tree.
Kapok tree has pinkish white or grayish brown lightweight wood which is suitable for carving and manufacture of coffins and canoes.
Silky fibers extracted from the seed pods of kapok tree are the lightest natural fibers (they are 8 times lighter than cotton fibers). Kapok fibers do not induce allergy and do not contain toxins.
Kapok fibers are used for stuffing of mattresses, pillows, toys and life jackets. They are too short and fragile for weaving (cannot be used in textile industry).
Kapok fibers are also used for thermal and acoustic isolation.
Oil extracted from the seed of kapok tree can be used as vegetable oil in human diet. This oil can be also used as biofuel (eco-friendly type of fuel) and for the manufacture of soaps and paints.
Kapok tree was sacred tree for Mayans, who believed that souls of deceased can reach heaven only via highest branches of kapok tree.
Seeds, leaves and bark of kapok tree are used in medical purposes in treatment of fever, asthma, dysentery and renal ailments. Bark can be also used in treatment of diabetes and headache.
Kapok tree can survive up to 300 years in the wild.

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