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PlantFiles: Kapok, Cotton Tree, Sumaúma
Ceiba pentandra

Family: Bombacaceae
Genus: Ceiba (SAY-buh) (Info)
Species: pentandra (pen-TAN-druh) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

6 members have or want this plant for trade.


over 40 ft. (12 m)

over 40 ft. (12 m)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring


Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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By Monocromatico
Thumbnail #1 of Ceiba pentandra by Monocromatico

By bermudiana
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By bermudiana
Thumbnail #3 of Ceiba pentandra by bermudiana

By arsenic
Thumbnail #4 of Ceiba pentandra by arsenic

By Monocromatico
Thumbnail #5 of Ceiba pentandra by Monocromatico

By knotimpaired
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By Equilibrium
Thumbnail #7 of Ceiba pentandra by Equilibrium

There are a total of 14 photos.
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3 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive palmbob On May 8, 2006, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is a somewhat marginal tree in southern California in that it grows slow and doesn't immediately appear to be buttressing, as it does in the tropics. The Los Angeles arboretum has some trees that fit the description of this, but have brilliant red flowers. I found one photo on line that had similar flowers, but not quite as long. The trunk is similarly spined, though. Quite a sight in spring in southern California to see a tree void of leaves but covered with these huge, leathery deep red flowers.

Neutral smmarkfan On Dec 30, 2003, smmarkfan wrote:

The Kapok Tree Restaraunt may be closed, but the tree and original building still exist. It is now owned by Sam Ash Music. They are very proud of the history of their location, and will gladly show visitors around. I copied the following off of their website.

923 McMullen Booth Road
Clearwater, FL 33759
(727) 725-8062
Fax: (941) 724-8356
Store Hours:
Monday - Friday: 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Sunday: 12:00 Noon to 6:00 PM

In case you haven’t heard there were some changes made to the Historic Kapok Tree Restaurant. If you haven’t visited the Sam Ash Music here in sunny Clearwater, Florida let us paint you a little picture. The tree outside our front door is over four hundred years old, and the building that used to be home to a world famous restaurant has been here since the fifties. In its day as a restaurant it was the place to get all dressed up and go for your finest meal.

The building has a personality all its own with thousands of square footage and rooms upon rooms. The rooms are all massive and each is very unique. We are the only music store with pillars that stand more than thirty feet tall, doors that were imported from Italy, and marble floors. We have statues, fountains, gardens, and more musical equipment than you could imagine. To say that it would cost a fortune to rebuild this today is an understatement. This is Sam Ash’s largest music store and one of the largest music stores in the world. If you happen to be in town, stop in, say hi, and take a look around the Old Kapok Tree.

Positive suncatcheracres On Oct 26, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

The only kapok tree I ever saw was in Clearwater, Florida, over twenty years ago, and it was in the center of a restaurant--gone many years now--called, of course, The Kapok Tree Restaurant. This rambling old building was kind of a mini-mall, with small shops opening off a long, hall-like atrium, and lots of tropical plantings, but the central attraction was the large restaurant with its kapok tree. The restaurant was famous for its fabulous desserts. I don't remember the tree being as spectacularly large as described here, but then it was growing out of its natural range, and I guess protected by the building itself.

I've never, ever, seen any other reference to the kapok tree, but of course it has shown up here on the PDB!

Positive Monocromatico On Oct 25, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

This is the most massive tree of South America. Native of the rainforests from Amazon to Central America and Caribean islands, this is an icon, the largest species of its family, and absolutely magnificent tree.

The lower trunk is covered with thorns, and is suported by tabular roots that can cover several meters around. Once could even build a small house between those roots. In the Botanical Garden (Rio de Janeiro) there are 2 specimens, both huge trees, but it´s not common to see them outside their natural habitat (I doubt it could be cultivated outside Puerto Rico and Hawaii, regarding United States). These trees are so big that you can barely see the pink/red flowers when it blooms. The fruits are capsules that open when ripe, liberating a shower of small seeds covered with a white cotton. It looks like it´s snowing! So beautiful!

When I went to the Amazon, I saw a 300 years old tree, the biggest living being I´ve ever seen so far! And the guide told me those trees could live up to 600 years... I can´t imagine such a thing!

Anyway, it needs high moist organic soil (in their natural habitats, it lives on places that are regularly flooded for a short period every year), high temperatures, and full sun (some shade when its young). It grows fast.

Neutral marty66 On Mar 3, 2003, marty66 wrote:

I've just read some information about this tree in a botanical book about the Cuban flora. I translate to you some of it (it's in French):

"...Ceiba is one of highest tree in Cuba and in the Caraibes, reaching more than 60m. The ancient slaves from Africa venerate this tree like the Baobab (same family). In Haiti it's the sacred terror tree, integrated in the voodoo aura..."

The author noted that in Cuba it's usually an isolated tree, rarely in large groups.

Itinéraires Botaniques dans l'ile de Cuba, Frère Marie-Victorin et Frère Léon, Institut Botanique de l'Université de Montréal, 1942.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Bonsall, California
Moreno Valley, California
Dunnellon, Florida
Homestead, Florida
Naples, Florida
Palm Bay, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Vero Beach, Florida
Vieques, Puerto Rico

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