Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Bombax L., nom. cons.

Trees, deciduous; trunk buttressed, aculeate or smooth, branching from the trunk in all directions at particular interval. Leaves alternate, petiolate, stipulate, digitately compound, 5 - 9-foliolate; leaflets articulate, sessile or petiolulate, glabrous or tufted hairy. Flowers, solitary or in clusters, axillary or subterminal, precocious, pedicellate; bracteoles 3, fugacious. Calyx campanulate to tubiform, coriaceous, truncate or irregu-larly 5 - 7-lobed at apex, caducous. Petals 5, linear to obovate or oblong, adnate to the base of staminal tube, caducous. Stamens numerous in 2 whorls of 5 - 6 bundles, connate at base and divided above into numerous long filaments; anthers medifixed, unilocular, hippocrepiform, dehiscing longitudinally, extrorse; pollen grains 3-colpate or 3-colporate, sexine reticulate. Ovary 5-locular, ovules many in each locule; styles filiform or clavate, divided into 5 spreading stigmatic branches at the tip. Capsules cylindrically oblong, tapering at both ends, woody, adpressed hairy outside, dehiscing longitudinally into 5 valves, valves densely covered with silky fibres inside; the central column winged and persistent. Seeds numerous, pyriform to globose, glabrous, exarillate, embedded in silky fibres, albumen scanty; cotyledons crumpled.

Tropical America, Africa and Asia, ca 8 species; 3 in India.

Literature. NICHOLSON, D.H. (1979). Nomenclature of Bombax, Ceiba (Bombacaccae) and Cochlospermum (Cochlospermaceac) and their type species. Taxon 28: 367 - 373. ROBYNS, A. (1963). Essai de monographic du genere Bombax s.l. (Bombacaceae). Bull. Jard. Bot. Brux. 83: 1 - 144, 145 - 316. SANTAPAU, H. (1963). Salmalia malabarica and Salmalia insignis. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 56: 364 - 365.


1a. Large trees up to 30 m tall; trunk and branches sparsely prickled or unarmed; leaflets petiolulate; flowers solitary or in clusters; styles 5-fid; capsules glabrous or velvety 2
b. Small trees up to 15 m tall; trunk and branches prickled in clusters; leaflets sessile; flowers solitary, styles simple; capsules velvety 3. Bombax scopulorum
2a. Trunk with hard conical prickles; flowers 10 - 12 cm long, ca 12 cm in diam.; stamens generally 65 - 80 in 6 bundles with one central and surrounding it; capsules 10 - 13 cm long, velvety; seeds dark brown 1. Bombax ceiba
b. Trunk without prickles; flowers 12 - 17 cm long; stamens numerous in 5 bundles; capsules 18 - 22 cm long glabrous; seeds black 2. Bombax insigne

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