Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ceibo pentrandra - Kekabu

Kekabu ( in Malay ) is Ceiba pentrandra, a tropical tree of the family Malavaceae ( previously a member of Bombacaceae.   Bombacaceae is not recognized by the APG I 1998, APG II 2003 and Kubitzki System 2003 as a family, instead as a subfamily Bombacoideae within Malavaceae sensu lato  ) , native to tropical America.   Another variety, Ceiba pentrandra var. guineensis, native to tropical west Africa.   It is mostly known as Kapok.

The tree grows up to 60 – 70 m tall.  The leaves are compound of 5 – 9 leaflets, each up to 20cm length.  The fruit is about 15cm in length, dehiscent.  The seeds surrounded by a fluffy, yellowish fiber that is a mix of lignin and cellulose.


The fibre is light, buoyant, resilient and resistant to water.  It is difficult to spin thus is used as an alternative as filling in mattresses, pillow, stuffed toys, and for insulation.  

Seeds produced oil used in soap making.


The tree is the official national tree of Puerto Rico and Guatemala.

The Honduran city of La Ceiba, and Puerto Rican town of Ceiba were named after this tree.

It is a sacred symbol in Maya mythology
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