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Bombax ceiba (Red silk-cotton) tree is of moderate to large-size, up to 60 feet (18.29 m) tall. Red Silk-Cotton tree is taller in the humid tropics. It often forms buttressed roots. The grayish bark; the trunk and branches bear conical spines, especially in young trees. Branches grow in irregular whorls, tier above tier. Also, the upright crown, is columnar to rounded and dense. The bright green shiny leaves are borne on a long stalks. The leaves are palmately compound, up to 24 inches (60.96 cm) long, with 3 to 7 leaflets (oblong to lanceolate).
Furthermore, the tree is briefly deciduous when flowering commences. The showy flowers are densely grouped near branch tips. The attractive blooms are cup-shaped, up to 7 inches (17.78 cm) across, thick, fleshy, waxy, and dull to bright red. Also, the fruit is a woody capsule covered with grayish-white hair. The fruit is up to 6 inches (15.24 cm) long, filled with a cottony fiber into which small brown seeds are embedded.
Upon ripening, the capsules burst open, releasing drifting floss and seeds. Seeds and cuttings are for propagation. In its native area, the tree has several practical uses. For example, young flowers are an ingredient in recipes. Also, various tree parts have medicinal uses. In addition, the soft fiber is a substitute for true kapok, which is from Ceiba Pentandra. The softwood is of little value.
In cultivation, it does best on deep, sandy, well-drained soils. Bombax ceiba (Red silk-cotton) is tolerant and hardy once established. Red silk-cotton has no reported serious pest or disease problems. Red silk-cotton is a spectacular flowering tree. Due to its size its best grown as a specimen tree. It is also ideal as a shade tree in large gardens and parks.