Ceiba pentandra seed
Ceiba pentandra, known as the Kapok, is a tall majestic tree that is native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, northern South America, and to tropical west Africa.
The tree grows to 60–70 metres tall and has a very substantial trunk up to 3 metres in diameter with buttresses. The trunk and many of the larger branches are often (but not always) crowded with very large, robust simple thorns.
The leaves are compound of 5 to 9 leaflets, each up to 20 cm and palm like.
Adult trees produce several hundred 15 cmpods. The pods contain seeds surrounded by a fluffy, yellowish fibre that is a mix of lignin and cellulose. Kapok is the most used common name for the tree and may also refer to the fibre obtained from its seed pods.
The fibre is light, very buoyant, resilient and resistant to water. The process of harvesting and separating the fibre is labour-intensive and manual. It is difficult to spin but is used as an alternative to down as filling in mattresse, pillows, upholstery, stuffed toys and for insulation.