return to: checklist; keys; family Malvaceae
Tree; young trunks green, with large conical prickles; mature trunks with relatively smooth bark and swollen bole; leaves alternate, palmately compound; leaflets 5 to 7, glabrous; flowers white or pink; fruit an elongate cylindrical capsule; seeds embedded among silky fibers (kapok).
Though often a massively large tree, the wood is very soft which limits the utility of its lumber. Its large spreading crown and stately trunk make the ceibo an excellent shade tree. The kapok fibers, harvested from this and other Ceiba species, can be used to stuff mattresses, pillows, life preservers, or used as insulation.
The ceibo tree plays an important role in Maya religion and mythology. Listed as an important source of pollen and/or nectar for bees (Souza Novello 1981, Suarez Molina 1981).