Kapok tree is an emergent tree of the tropical rainforests, and is often
described as majestic. It can grow to a height of 150 feet or more, towering
over other trees in the rainforest. Originally a native to South America it
now has spread to the primary rainforests of West Africa, and the Southeast
Asia. The straight trunks are cylindrical, smooth and gray in color, and can
reach a diameter of 9 feet. The wood is a pinkish white to ashy brown in
color, with a
straight grain. The branches grow in horizontal tiers, and spread widely. The
crown has an open umbrella shape. Many plants and animals grow and live in the
branches of the kapok tree. Birds nest in it, and mammals use the huge
branches as highways. Frogs breed in the pools of water that collect in the
bromeliads. The leaves are palmate and compound. The 5-9 leaflets are 7-8 cm
long and 1-3.5 cm wide. Flowers usually open before the leaves appear, and are
clustered on small, new branches. The 5 petals of a flower are about 2.5 cm
long and are a creamy white or pale pink in color. Their odor is unpleasan,
but is probably meant to attract the bats that pollinate them. The brown seeds
are round like peas and are found in pods.
Photographed in Maharashtra.
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The flower labeled Kapok Tree is ...