Forest 58 - Silk Floss Tree

Ceiba speciosa

Ceiba speciosa fluff. Photo not from the Arboretum Ceiba speciosa spiky trunk Photo not from the Arboretum

Other common names

Spanish: Palo borracho

Origin of the species name

Ceiba is derived from the indigenous name for giant tree; speciosa is from Latin for beautiful or showy



Date planted

December 2011


Trees of this species are long lived.

Ceiba speciosa  tree in flower Photo not from the Arboretum

General description

This is a deciduous tree with a bright-green bottle-shaped trunk, studded with thick conical thorns, that turns grey with age. The branches tend to be horizontal and are also covered with thorns. The leaves are compound with five to seven long leaflets.  The flowers are creamy-whitish in the centre and pink towards the tips of their petals. The fruit pods contain bean-sized black seeds surrounded by a mass of fluff. Height 25m Spread 15m.

Natural distribution and habitat  

The species is native to Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and southern Brazil where it occurs in tropical and subtropical forests.

Conservation status

It is not considered to be a threatened species.

Planting pattern

Forest 58 is a steep site and is planted in lines following the contours.


The cotton inside the fruit pods is soft and flexible, and is sometimes used in packaging, as wood pulp to make paper, and in ropes. From the seeds it is possible to obtain vegetable oil (both edible and industrially useful).