Bombax Species, Kapok Tree, Red Silk Cotton Tree, Silk Cotton

Bombax ceiba

Family: Malvaceae (mal-VAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Bombax (BOM-baks) (Info)
Species: ceiba (SAY-buh) (Info)
Synonym:Bombax malabaricum
Synonym:Salmalia malabaricum



Water Requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Grown for foliage

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


over 40 ft. (12 m)


30-40 ft. (9-12 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)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone


Seed is poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Direct sow as soon as the ground can be worked

From seed; germinate in a damp paper towel

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds


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

Tucson, Arizona

Bonsall, California

Los Angeles, California

Mission Viejo, California

Riverside, California

Spring Valley, California

Avon Park, Florida

Cape Coral, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Homestead, Florida

Melbourne Beach, Florida

Miami, Florida(2 reports)

Mulberry, Florida

Nokomis, Florida

Palm Beach, Florida

Pompano Beach, Florida

Port Charlotte, Florida

Saint Petersburg, Florida

Sarasota, Florida(2 reports)

Vero Beach, Florida

Grenoble, Rhône-Alpes

Brownsville, Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas

La Porte, Texas

Mission, Texas

Rockport, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 3, 2017, KiminLondon from London,
United Kingdom wrote:

Hi all
I'm in London after a month in India. Three of these beautiful trees grow by my friend's roof top terrace in Delhi and I had the pleasure of watching them flower, fruit and then spill out these amazing huge cotton balls like snow. It was so funny watching the native squirrels tearing into them as if they were having a pillow fight! So I collected a few of these balls, brought them back to London and planted them about a week later. I have 11 little plants growing on my kitchen window sill!!! They are in one pot so I am going to give them a bit more space today - they are about 3 inches tall in about a week! Monsters...
Any advice? Have never done this before...


On Feb 1, 2016, lokidog from Logan, UT wrote:

I think some of the commenters are confusing this with the kapok tree, Ceiba pentandra, native to the Americas. Related but quite different. The ceiba in the scientific name refers it to kapok - and the fibers can be used in a similar manner. However B. ceiba is the one used as a spice with red flowers, native to Asia.


On Jun 11, 2015, Pamellam from Kashiwa,
Japan wrote:

I am researching this tree from the spice point of view. The unopened buds of the flowers are collected (or possibly the immature fruit), dried and used in India as a spice. They are called Marathi Moggu and can be found in the UK on spices selling sites as Kapok Buds. They are always roasted to bring out their flavour which is said to be a mixture of mustard and black pepper.


On Nov 7, 2013, aboukhary from Cairo,
Egypt (Zone 10a) wrote:

It is a beautiful tree that flowers in the late summer early autumn in the Mediterranean region.

This tree is extremely drought tolerant. Some trees of this species can be observed in Cairo with virtually no access to water except from the early morning fog.


On Aug 15, 2012, gardengremlin from Riverside, CA wrote:

Mine is about 6 feet - in a largish pot. Waiting to see what happens next.


On Apr 12, 2012, gardn_whisperer from Sarasota, FL wrote:

I first spotted this wonderful tree last year as it was shedding the cottony fluff--I have never seen the blooms--but love the fluffy 'silk'.

It is close to Fruitville Road in Sarasota, Florida.


On Aug 16, 2007, paulconwy from conwy north wales uk,
United Kingdom wrote:

saw this treee in the grounds of the San Domica Palace hotel in Taormina in sicily.Was amazed at the trunk with the horrific lookin spines.Have seen in june in flower without seemingly leaves.Saw it again in September on on occasion it was full of cotton wool type balls which were then being blown about.Each ball had a small seed inside.I managed to cpture some but have been able to have any success with planting the seed.Going again there in a month but possibly all the seeds will have blown away


On Aug 7, 2004, nofool from Sarasota, FL wrote:

I have a Kapok tree that is about 25' tall. It is covered with awsome thorns. I understand as the tree gets larger it will grow out of these thorns and the adult tree will have a smooth bark. But right now I am just amazed at the thorns they, give the tree such a presents of strength and power.
But at the same time it is not a place for the kids to build a tree house, ouch. The blossoms are big and beautiful, and last a long time, followed by the silk, truely another spectatular display of natures diversity.


On Jul 23, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

The ceiba is a well beloved tree in Cuba, where I was born and grew up. It is tied to several historical moments in the late 19th century and early 20th century when Cuba was fighting for its independence from Spain..

There are some very tall specimens in the Foster Botanical Gardens in Honolulu (near China Town)


On Jul 22, 2004, twiglike from Mission Viejo, CA wrote:

There is a business park near my home with several very large trees. The thorns are not as prevelant as the pictures on this site. There are thorns covering the tree, but not nearly as large. I've not seen it in bloom, but I have seen the pods and what appear to be bouquets of cotton. Awesome looking tree. Grows well in Southern California.


On May 29, 2004, spaceman_spiff from Saint Petersburg, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I just collected some seeds from a tree here in St. Petersburg, FL, and am going to try growing some seedlings. I collected the seeds from some of the cotton-silk left over from the pods on the ground underneath the tree. I had originally seen this particular tree blooming a few months ago. I had never seen this kind of tree before, but the large, beautiful red flowers caught my attention. I don't think I would want this kind of tree in my yard--between the huge flowers dropping all over, and the pods and the cotton-silk fuzz balls falling later, it must be a mess! If I can get any of the seedlings to grow, I will see about planting one or more in a business park near the office building I work in. Then, I can enjoy it on walks through the park, but not have to clean up after it!
... read more


On Apr 23, 2004, DawnRain from Bartow, FL wrote:

This plant has a very long bloom period in Florida. It opens first bloom in fall, lights up the sky throughout winter and may still have a bloom or two in spring. It's a fabulous plant here.


On Apr 22, 2004, pjives wrote:

I have observed this tree around the St. Petersburg, Fl. area and am in awe of the length of blooming time. They seem to be quite an attraction for wild Parrots!


On Apr 2, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Saw this tree for the first time in summer, and though attractive, didn't think much of it... just visited again this April and the look is totally different- leafless for one thing... but also covered with huge, bulky red flowers (all near top of tree so no great photos) with wide petals- reminiscent of a monstrous passion vine flower. Great look- nothing like it's cousin, Bombax elipticum (spelling?). Flowers up to 6" across... are edible. The root is used as some sort of aphrodesiac. Also the fruit has a fiber called Kapok that is used for stuffing pillows and mattresses.

Note, some people confuse this plant with Ceiba speciosa, another silk cotton tree, much more common in cultivation. However, that tree has GREEN bark and super sharp spines on trunk... do NOT con... read more


On Mar 8, 2003, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

What interests me about the Bombax is that it blooms so spectacularly for only a very short time--a week to 10 days.