Brazil's Prehistoric Ceiba Speciosa or Silk Floss Tree
If there is one tree that seems to belong back in the age of the dinosaur, it's the Silk Floss tree native to Brazil and other South America countries.
The Silk Floss tree or Ceiba speciosa, its botanical name, is subtropical in nature, grows to 50+ feet and is unique for its spikes, which protrude out from the tree trunk. There is no other tree like this. Locally, it is called, palo borracho, or "drunken stick" because of its lazy looking and spread out branches. The tree produces huge 4-6" white\pink flowers akin to hibiscus and are loved by butterflies and bees in the springtime. The tree also produces 8" long seed pods that resemble cotton when opened and can be used.
The trees can withstand temps as low as 25F for a short duration and for much longer at 29-30F. Though, subtropical, meaning Florida, San Diego, they can be grown outside in more temperate zones as far north as Santa Rosa, CA., or any clime that does not drop much below 27F in the winter for long. As young trees, the are fast growing, easily growing 3-4 ft. in a summer. The are a great but messy shade tree. In climate zones that suffer freezing temps, the tree, depending on the diameter of the branches and trunk, might suffer frost damage. In the Spring, this damage may cause a dark mildrew-like substance that will kill damaged parts. So, usually, the tree will have to be cut back in more northern climes.
Seedlings or seeds can be bought online from nursery's, usually in Florida. I suggest buying them in March-May so they have the whole summer to reach good height. They can be a house plant until around 6 ft., by they then, outside is fine if in a protected area. Until the trunk reaches a 4"+ diameter, you may have to protect them from temps below freezing.
The other unique thing about the tree is until it becomes quite large, everything on the tree is green and produces chlorophyll, even the tree trunk! So, if you are into more exotic trees, this is the one to get because whoever sees it will be drawn to it by the spikes. Rest assured.
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