February 18, 2008


Moi, St. Petersburg, Florida
The Kapok is in it's final stages of blooms

Chorisia Speciosa
or The Red Silk Floss Tree

While visiting the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Art I passed through its gardens in the back area and was stopped by this breath-taking tree that appeared to be filled with red orchids. One of the Museum employees saw us oogling it and told us it was a Kapok tree. The Kapok I learned refers to the pods and the silk floss is contained inside.

Closeup of the blooms that appear similar to hibiscus, orchids or lilies.

The Kapok is listed as one of the top five most beautiful trees in the world. While it is not a Florida native, it is very drought resistant and does well here. The tree is filled with blooms on bare branches in late Fall and Winter.

The silk floss from the Kapok's pods

The silk floss is too slippery for textiles but is used to stuff mattresses and cushions.

I feel so lucky to have seen one of the world's most beautiful trees.


  1. The tree is huge. I wonder how old it is? I thought it would bloom in spring but see it blooms in fall. Lucky for you to see it and share with us. I love old trees too. They bend and sway so beautifully.

  2. Good question, Anna. The museum official told us it was 40 and that many viewers thought it to be so much older than it is. That's because it's a fast growing tree.

  3. Very, very beautiful, and you are indeed lucky to have seen it and also lucky some kind person took the time to tell you about it. I have a box made from Kapok that came from Korea many years ago. Do you suppose it is the same type of tree?

    Frances at Faire Garden

  4. It has a very nice form to it. More horizontal but still balanced. It looks like a nice place for a giant treehouse. Where is the tree native to?

  5. Hi Frances,

    Kapok is a beautiful wood and yes it could come from the sub-tropical Cheju Island off the coast of Korea.

  6. Hi Dave,

    That form is so awesome and tempting for children to climb on. The kapok is native to tropical and sub-tropical areas and is actually the state tree of Puerto Rico.

  7. What a gorgeous tree! I have what I refer to as a Kapok tree but it has thorns on it's trunk! Did this tree have thorns? Maybe I've been calling my tree by the wrong name . . .
    Mary Beth @ Cultivating Paradise

  8. It is indeed a beautiful tree. I knew the fluff was used to stuff pillows at one time but synthetics have mostly taken over. If I remember correctly the tree trunks are covered with very nasty thorns/spines? I have never seen one in bloom but from your photo they look rather like the very invasive African Tulip Tree.

  9. Hi Mary Beth,

    Welcome to Sweet Home and Garden Chicago. I understand that some Kapoks have huge thorns on their trunks, but the one I saw didn't.

    How lucky you are to have one. I see that you're in Texas. Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Hi Ki,

    I'm not familiar with the African tulip tree and will have to look it up. The kapok is not considered invasive in Florida.

    The Brazilian pepper tree is on the "beautiful but bad " list here and I see it growing along the forests edge and in some gardens.

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  12. Wow, that is a beautiful tree! Thanks for sharing. Too bad we can't grow it farther north.

  13. Isn't that the truth? Thanks for visiting, Phillip.


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