Indian kapok


Indian kapok, or red kapok, is native to China and Southeast Asia, from India to the Philippines and northern Australia. In its native distribution it reaches a height of 130 feet, with an erect, spiny trunk, 9 feet in diameter supported by prop roots. The leaves are up to 2 feet long and  have up to seven leaflets originating from a central point, the largest up to 10 inches long. Flowers are up to 5 inches wide, open at night, and produce abundant nectar to attract bats and moths. Fruits are hard capsules, up to 6 inches long, that open to liberate many seeds surrounded by cotton-like fibers. It flowers in early spring and the fruits open late in the same season, when the new foliage is produced. The generic name derives from the Greek word for silk, in reference to the fruit's fiber. The species name derives from a vernacular name.

The photographed tree is one of two specimens growing near the gate connecting to the the Federal Agricultural Experiment Station. Presumably they propagated naturally from seeds produced by one of two nearby trees in TARS.

Bombax ceiba (Malvaceae)