Ceiba

 
 

Ceiba, or silk-cotton tree, is native to the tropics of America, Africa and Asia. It is a large tree, not only for its height, which can surpass 80 feet, but also for the width of its crown and the thickness of the trunk, which can surpass 8 feet in diameter above large prop roots. The bark of young trees is green and spiny. The leaves have a long petiole and five to eight leaflets, the largest up to 8 inches long. Flowers are about 1.5 inches wide and open at night, the nectar attracts bats and moths.  Fruits are capsules about 6 inches long that open in five parts to expose silk-like fibers called kapok, which have been used to stuff pillows and mattresses. It flowers generally during winter and spring, after shedding most of its leaves. The fruits open mainly during spring and summer. Taíno indians hollowed out ceiba trunks to make large canoes. The generic name derives from the indian name for the tree. The species name refers to the presence of five stamens in the flower.


The photographed tree is across from the Student Union. There are other trees between the Dispensary and the Student Union, east of Building B, at the Natarorium sports complex, and west of the Chemical Engineering Building; the latter was planted by Manuel A. Pérez and Carlos Figueroa in 1989. The trees east of Building B were planted by Carlos Figueroa in 1990.

Ceiba pentandra (Malvaceae)