Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Desert Cotton, Kapok Bush
Aerva javanica

Family: Amaranthaceae
Genus: Aerva (AY-er-va) (Info)
Species: javanica (juh-VAHN-ih-kuh) (Info)

One member has or wants this plant for trade.


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Flowers are good for cutting
Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
Direct sow as soon as the ground can be worked

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


1 positive
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive IRFAN_LODHI On Feb 13, 2010, IRFAN_LODHI from faisalabad
Pakistan (Zone 10b) wrote:

Aerva javanica) Desert Cotton,Kapok bush
It has a native distribution from Northern Africa(Morocco,Cape Verde Islands and Cameroun through Uganda and Tanzania to Madagascar. )to south western regions of Asia(Burma, India,Sri Lanka and Arabian desert ) and also Introduced in Australia and elsewhere .
The plant is a herbaceous plant, multistemmed, soft-wooded, with broad leaves frequently woody and suffruticose or growing in erect clumps,
The seedheads are harvested for their soft fibres, rubbed between the palms and used as kapok for pillows. It is called Bilhangga in the languages of the Yindjibarndi and Ngarluma people, the English term is Kapok Bush.

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