Shacing-brush tree


Shaving-brush tree is native to Mexico, Guatemala, and Cuba. It reaches a height of 60 feet, with a short trunk up to 4 feet in diameter. The leaves have five leaflets, the largest up to 8.5 inches long. Flowers are up to 8 inches wide and are visited by bats and moths. Fruits are elongated capsules full of grayish fibers that were once used to stuff pillows and mattresses. In dry areas it sheds all its leaves and flowers in late winter, after which the new foliage is produced. The generic name means false bombax, in turn from the Greek bomyx, meaning silk, in reference to the fruit’s fibers. The species name apparently refers to the shape of the fruit.

The photographed tree was planted in front of the Biology Building in 2005. There’s another tree west of this same building and one at the Natatorium sports complex.

Pseudobombax ellipticum (Malvaceae)