Kapok Bush   
Foto info
Kapok Bush
P Native Herb Unknown Photo: Siddarth Machado
Common name: Kapok Bush, Java aerva, pillow bush, snow bush • Hindi: बुई Buee
Botanical name: Aerva javanica    Family: Amaranthaceae (Amaranth family)
Synonyms: Aerva incana, Aerva wallichii

Kapok Bush is a herbaceous, multi-stemmed and soft-wooded herb, and bears broad leaves; it often has an erect habit and grows to a height of about 1.6 m. Stem and branches are round, striped, densely whitish- or yellowish-woolly or pannose. Leaves are alternate, very variable in size and form, from narrowly linear to nearly round, densely whitish- or yellowish woolly but usually more thinly so and greener on the upper surface, margins plane or more or less involute (when strongly so the leaves frequently sickle shaped-recurved), stalkless or with a short and indistinct leaf-stalk or the latter rarely to about 2 cm in robust plants. Flowers are dioecious. Spikes are stalkless, cylindrical, dense and stout (up to about 10 x 1 cm.), to slender and interrupted with lateral spherical clusters of flowers and with some spikes apparently stalked by branch reduction; male plants always with more slender spikes (but plants with slender spikes may not be male) ; upper part of stem and branches leafless, the upper spikes thus forming at branch-ends panicles; bracts 0.75-2.25 mm, broadly deltoid-ovate, hyaline, pointed or blunt with the obscure midrib ceasing below the tip, densely woolly throughout or only about the base or tip, persistent; bracteoles similar, also persistent. Capsule is 1-1. 5 mm, rotund, compressed. Seed 0.9-1.25 mm, round, slightly compressed, brown or black, shining and smooth or very faintly netveined. Kapok Bush is is widespread in semi-arid and arid regions of the tropics and subtropics. It is found throughout much of mainland Africa, on the Cape Verde islands and in Madagascar, in the Arabian Peninsula and areas further eastwards in southern Asia and the Indian sub-continent.

Identification credit: Siddarth Machado Photographed in Guttur, Andhra Pradesh.

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