Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn., Fruct. Sem. Pl. 2: 244, t.133 f.l. 1791; Alston in Trimen, Handb. Fl. Ceylon 6: 30. 1931. Bombax pentandrum L., Sp. Pl. 511. 1753. Eriodendron anfractuosum DC., Prodr. 1:479. 1824; Masters in Fl. Brit. India 1: 350. 1874. E. pentandtum (L.) Kurz in J. Asiat. Soc. Beng. 43: 113. 1874. Eylon pentandrum (L.) O. Kuntze., Rev. Gen. Pl. 1: 75. 1891. Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn. var. indica (DC.) Balch. f. in Bull. Jard. Bot. Buitenz. ser. 3, 6: 195. 1924.

Beng.: Swet simul; Mal.: Panya, Mullu lavu; Mar.: Saled savara, Salmali; Sans.: Swet salmali, Pulum imbul, Tam.: Panji, Ilavum; Tel.: Tella buraga; Eng.: Kapok, Floss or The white cotton tree.

Trees, up to 20 m tall; trunk straight, smooth or prickly when young; buttressed at base; bark green; branches horizontal in whorls of 5 - 7 in all directions at intervals of 60 - 150 cm. Leaves digitate, 5 - 9-foliotate; leaflets 10 - 12 x 4 cm, narrowly ovate-oblong to obovate-oblong, narrowed at base, acute to acuminate at apex, entire, glabrous; petioles ca 14 - 20 cm long. Flowers usually in clusters of 3 - 10, axillary or grouped towards ends of leafless branchlets, rarely solitary, axillary; pedicels 2 - 3 cm long, stout, glabrous. Calyx campanulate, ca 1 cm long, irregularly 5-lobed, coriaceous, glabrous outside, silky inside, persistent. Petals usually 5, rarely 6, connate at base, 4 cm long, oblong to oblanceolate, rounded at apex, downy outside except at base, pubescent near apex inside, imbricate. Staminal tube divided into 5 phalanges, each dividing again into usually 3 filiform branches bearing 2 - 3 anfractose, 1-locular twisted anthers; sometimes one petaloid stamen present. Ovary globular or ovoid, glabrous, 5-locular, ovules many in each locule; styles 1 cm long, filiform, dilated above the staminal column; stigmas capitate or obscurely 5-lobed. Capsules 12 - 25 x 3.5 cm, up to 4 cm in diam. ellipsoid to fusiform, narrowed at both end~, coriaceous, green when young, browning with maturity, indehiscent or tardily dehiscing into 5-valves, septa membranous. Seeds numerous, globose to subpyriform, black with copious white silky fibres, testa thin; cotyledons leafy, crumpled; albumen scanty, radicle curved.

Fl. Dec. - Feb. ; Fr. Feb. - April.

Distrib. Introduced and naturalised in all states of Peninsular India, West Bengal and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Native of tropical America.

Notes. Gum exuded from the trunk is an astringent used as tonic in bowel complaints. Roots are reported to be used in treating diarrohea, as an antidote for scorpion sting and as a cure for diabetes. The other uses are similar to those of Bombax ceiba and B. insigne.

Often cultivated in gardens throughout India.


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