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Brazil's Prehistoric Ceiba Speciosa or Silk Floss Tree

Updated on April 30, 2012
Silk Floss Tree
Silk Floss Tree
The spikes
The spikes
Esta es muy bonita.
Esta es muy bonita.

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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    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Yeah, it was the spikes that attracted me.

    • PennyCarey profile image


      6 years ago from Felton

      A beautiful tree, even with it's spikes.

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Yes, but its in the back yard. This years was a mild winter so luckily I did have to cut it back. Mine is sitting in a wine barrel and is about 13-14 ft. Its about 3-4 yrs. old. When i got it, it was only 3 ft. from South Florida

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      What an interesting tree. I have never heard of it but would like to see one. I imagine those spikes would be a real attraction in your front yard. Thanks for the educational hub on this tree.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Wow...this was amazing and beautiful tree I've ever seen. Silk Floss Tree is like a bottle, The spikes as unusual skin surface and Esta es muy bonita has beautiful flowers. Thanks for writing and share with us. Voted up!



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