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Trees of San Diego: Floss-Silk Trees

Articles: Trees of San Diego: Floss-Silk Trees

Pink floss-silk tree (Ceiba speciosa). Photographs by Don Walker

With their fat, thorny trunks and branches, tropical-looking foliage, and exotic, hibiscus-like flowers, the floss-silk trees are among the most distinctive ornamental trees for regions where frosts are not severe. Formerly placed in their own genus, Chorisia (and still sold under that name), these showy South American members of the bombax family (Bombacaceae) are closely related to the tropical kapok tree (Ceiba pentandra) and have recently been reclassified within that genus. Like the kapok tree, floss-silk trees have palmate leaves with five-inch-long leaflets and are known for their large seed pods, which contain copious amounts of a cottony fiber that has been used as stuffing in pillows and as insulation in parkas and other cold-weather clothing. Successful in Sunset zones 12-24, they are at their absolute best in the warm, dry climates of Southern California, where they are popular in both public and private landscapes.

Flowers of pink floss-silk tree (Ceiba speciosa)[/cap...


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