Kapok Tree (Ceiba Pentandra)
📷 Image credit: National Parks Board (@nparksbuzz)
The Kapok (Ceiba Pentandra), also called Java cotton, ceiba, or Java kapok, is cultivated for its cotton-like seed fibre.
The Kapok is a fast-growing tree that can reach up to 70 metres in height. It has a massive trunk that is heavily buttressed and covered in thorns. Its huge, buttressed trunk tapers upward to an almost horizontal, spreading crown where large, compound leaves are made up of five to eight long, narrow leaflets. Its stiff upper branches – arranged in a tiered fashion – can resemble a pagoda.
A deciduous tree, the Kapok sheds its leaves before flowering and fruiting in response to drought. Its flowers are cream-coloured. The Kapok is best known for its fruit, which are large hanging pods that split when ripe to release a white cotton fibre used to stuff life jackets, mattresses, and pillows.
Only eight Kapok trees are listed as heritage trees in Singapore. One such heritage Kapok tree is located at Toa Payoh North Flyover. This Kapok tree was planted in the early 1970s, around the time the Toa Payoh satellite town and the flyover were built. It now stands as a living landmark for commuters.
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