Ceiba speciosa (Silk Floss Tree)


  • TropPlant Accession Number (TPAN): 0097
  • Botanical Name: Ceiba speciose
  • Common Name: Silk Floss Tree, Palo Borracho, Paineira, Toborochi, Tree of Refuge
  • Cultivar: N/A
  • Family: Malvaceae
  • Native To: Southern Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia, and Argentina, 
Ceiba speciosa 
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Landscaping Information

    • Plant Type: Tree
    • Texture: Medium
    • Form: Upright-broad
    • Height (on average, in landscape use):  30'- 80'
    • Height to Spread Ratio: 1:1
    • Growth Rate: Fast
    • Landscape Values: Accent, Background, Border, Color, Edging, Facer, Shade, Specimen
    • Outstanding Quality: Flower Color, Fruit, Bark
    Ceiba speciosa in bloom
    Photo by Matthew Gaston


    Botanical Descriptions

    • Flowers: Large 6"-9" wide, hibiscus-type flower, pink to magenta with cream to yellow throating, speckled with deep purple to black streaks. Undulate petals. Known to attract insects and hummingbirds. 
    Ceiba speciosa flowers
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Ceiba speciosa flowers
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Ceiba speciosa flowers
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    • Fruits: Ovoid, 8" long, woody capsules dehisce to expose silky cotton with black beans inside. The common name Silk Floss Tree is derived from this fiber.
    Ceiba speciosa dehisced fruit exposing the seeds, which are covered by a cotton-like, silky papule. 
    Photo by Philmarin [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

    • Foliage Color: Young/immature: Light Green.  Mature: Bright Medium Green to Dark Green
    • Leaflet Tip: Caudate 
    • Leaflet Base: Acute
    • Petiole: 2.25"-3" 
    • Stipules: N/A
    • Leaflet Margins: Serrate
    • Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
    • Leaflet Shape: obovate to oblanceolate 
    • Leaf Type: Palmately Lobed 
    • Leaf Texture: thin, smooth, glabrous, prominent veins
    • Leaf Special Notes: a handsome palmate leaf

    Ceiba speciosa adaxial leaf surface
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Ceiba speciosa abaxial leaf surface
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    • Bark and Trunk: Stems and trunk green with chlorophyll when young and age to brownish gray. Notable prickles on the trunk. 
    Ceiba speciosa green, prickled trunk
    Photo by Matthew Gaston

    Horticultural Information

      • Light Preference: Full Sun
      • Light Tolerances: Semi-Sun
      • Soil Preferences: Organic, Moist, Well-Drained.
      • Tolerances: Drought
      • Water Requirements: Moderate watering, once established drought tolerant
      • Notes on Maintenance: A lot of rubbish from fruits and flowers. Susceptible to scale. 
      Ceiba speciosa flowers on the ground
      Photo by Matthew Gaston

      • Propagation: Seeds, Cutting.
      • Minimum USDA Hardiness Zone: 9a
      • Weed Risk Assessment Score (WRA): Not Assessed 

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