Pseudobombax Species, Amapolla Tree, Shaving Brush Tree

Pseudobombax ellipticum

Family: Malvaceae (mal-VAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Pseudobombax (soo-doh-BOM-baks) (Info)
Species: ellipticum (ee-LIP-tih-kum) (Info)
Synonym:Bombax ellipticum
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Cactus and Succulents

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Light Shade



Foliage Color:



12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

over 40 ft. (12 m)


15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

30-40 ft. (9-12 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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:


White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From woody stem cuttings

From hardwood cuttings

From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium

Seed Collecting:

Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Apache Junction, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona(3 reports)

Tucson, Arizona(2 reports)

Bonsall, California

Escondido, California

Hayward, California

Reseda, California

Spring Valley, California

Thousand Oaks, California

Upland, California

Big Pine Key, Florida(2 reports)

Boca Raton, Florida

Bokeelia, Florida

Bradley, Florida

Dunnellon, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Melbourne, Florida

Miami, Florida

Mulberry, Florida

Port Charlotte, Florida

Rockledge, Florida

Grenoble, Rhône-Alpes

Brownsville, Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas

Freeport, Texas

Harlingen, Texas

Houston, Texas

Liberty, Texas

Mathis, Texas

Spring, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On May 3, 2021, Chinandega81 from Miami, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

I almost gave this a negative rating but don't have the heart to. When I planted, I didn't know the tree was without leaves for almost half of the year. They drop in November and dont leaf out until late May. The flowers also only last ONE day. They are beautiful, but oh so brief. And the tree doesn't get covered in flowers either, it's sporadic. You basically will have a large, bare tree for 6 months. Now, when it leafs out, it looks nice, especially the new growth which is red. However it is also a favorite of the Sri Lanka bullweevil and they eat the leaves and they look ragged after leafing out because of it. It is a nice tree for a large property where the negatives won't be so visible as they would in a home landscape. Probably best for parks or large lots.


On Jan 14, 2015, AridTropics from Chandler, AZ wrote:

A unique and stunning gem from the drier tropical forest regions of Southern Mexico down into Central America, Shaving Brush Trees are stunning centerpiece additions to any Tropical-esque succulent garden. They can also be trained to create conversation starting Bonsai subjects possessing swollen "Caudex" like trunk bases which fatten up the more they are pruned.

Often times, the trunk of such specimens will possess a tortoise shell like texture intertwined in bright green.

In nature, and when left to grow larger in the ground, trees are squat and can be wider spreading rather than tall and often lack the pronounced swelling of the trunk base seen in pot-bound specimens.

Interestingly, this is a tree that seems to present something eye catchi... read more


On Nov 16, 2013, ricaudexguy from Westerly, RI wrote:

Hi everyone,

I just bought a p bambox. It's about 3 feet tall. Woody about halfway up. Has an avocado shaped/sized base. Can I cut it a few inches above the base in the spring? Higher a better idea? I'd like it to caudiform. Any thoughts? Other things I should think about with this little tree? I'll be trying to root the cutting as well.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Crazy plants in Rhode Island can happen!


On May 29, 2012, MTVineman from Glenwood, MN (Zone 5a) wrote:

I have been growing Bombax ellipticum for years. I live in Montana though, so obviously my Bombax tree's are grown inside for most of the year except spring, summer and early fall. Mine have always been excellent growers and extremely easy to take care of. They don't seem to be too picky but do like plenty of water. Never let it dry out completely or you'll have a dead Bombax. Then again, don't over water either or you'll have a rotten Bombax and trust, you don't want that! These are beautiful tree's and make great houseplants. One of mine has only bloomed once and the others, never. Likely because I don't live or grow them in the correct climate. I was just lucky that one year I guess. The flowers are however, extremely beautiful and showy and DO look like giant shaving brushes. The pods ... read more


On Feb 7, 2011, learningsouthplants from Sarasota, FL wrote:

This is a question about this plant.....I need trees that do not have an invasive and thirsty root system, as I have a large septic field that I must plant around. I am trying to find out if this tree would be good to plant near the septic field, or not. Thanks for any info you can give me.


On Nov 15, 2010, tazzie4u from Melbourne, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I've had this plant for over 3 years. Year after year it keeps losing its leaves and never blooms. It has one very long thin stalk that is a very healthy green but I'm wondering if I am supposed to cut it back to make the base grow? I'm not sure how to care for this plant.


On Apr 24, 2010, rosenyou from Miami, FL wrote:

I first saw this tree from afar and thought is was a ceiba in bloom. However, after approaching it, I realize it was something completely different, but had no idea what it was. I collected a couple of seed pods and found it in a "rare plant" webpage. It was quite large and the fallen blooms make somewhat of a mess - but a beauty. Also, it had a very large trunk - the tree was at least 30-40 feet tall - impressive.


On Jul 3, 2008, superpepper from Lauderhill, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

When I bought this plant in October or so, it had one leaf on top and didn't look so hot. I potted it and brought it inside for the winter and the one leaf promptly fell off.

In spring, I put it back outside and it is growing like crazy. I have it on a south-facing balcony in a clay pot and it seems to like the sun. I water it regularly and it seems to respond well to the ample water. It hasn't bloomed yet, so I don't know if it is pink or white.


On Feb 23, 2007, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

Attractive plant.But if you grow one outdoors in a pot be careful of sunburn. For a xeriscape plant usually planted in ground, its very sensitive to hot summer sun while kept as a potted plant. Temps below freezing are likely to kill it.

Here we are in now 2020,and 13 years after I wrote about it and 15 years after I bought it (or more) It has bloomed,one year in the ground. Never would flower in a pot. A long wait!


On Apr 25, 2005, mljseashell from Longboat Key, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

I just saw a massive, gorgeous hot pink one at Selby Gardens, Sarasota, Florida. Incredibly beautiful blooms.


On Jan 11, 2004, SoFlaLover wrote:

I have a pink shaving brush, it's an amazing plant to experience. The flowers are huge as well as the leaves. I planted it in the ground and it seems to be doing fine. I live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, even though it isn't listed that they grow here. When I first bought this tree the guy at the nursery didn't even know what it was, it was already 10 feet tall. He sold it to me for 60 dollars and told me it was called a "waxy." Only recently have I figured out the name of it through extensive research. I highly recommend this wonderful conversational tree.


On Oct 18, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Bombax elipticum is a great pot plant, but if you want something large and caudiciform in your xeriscape garden that has a cool, bulbous green trunk and maroon emergent leaves with bizzare white puffy flowers, then this is the plant for you. It is extremely drought tolerant, but we find that if you water it a lot in the summer, it grows very fast and is much more likely to flower.