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Botanical Name: Bombax ceiba
Synonyms: Bombax ceiba Linn. syn. Bombax malabaricum DC.; Salmalia malabarica (DC.) Schoot & Endl.; Gossampius malabarica (DC.) Merrill, Salmalia malabarica
Common Name: Silkcotton Tree, Malabar Semul , Indian bombax , Kapok tree , Silk Cotton. , Red Cotton Tree , Red silk cotton tree
Seeds collection period: April-Mat
Seeds longevity: 1-2 year
Bombax ceiba grows to an average of 20 meters, with old trees up to 60 meters in wet tropical regions. The trunk and limb bear numerous conical spines particularly when young, but get eroded when older. The leaves are palmate with about 6 leaflets radiating from a central point, an average of 7~10 centimeters wide, 13~15 centimeters in length. The leaf's long flexible petiole is up to 20 cm long.
Cup-shaped flowers solitary or clustered, axillary or sub-terminal, fascicles at or near the ends of the branches.
This Asian tropical tree has a straight tall tree and its leaves are deciduous in winter. Red flowers with 5 petals appear in the spring before the new foliage. It produces a capsule which, when ripe, contains white fibers like cotton. Its trunk bears spikes to deter attacks by animals. Although its stout trunk suggests that it is useful for timber, its wood is too soft to be very useful.
The dry cores of the Bombax ceiba flower are an essential ingredient of the nam ngiao spicy noodle soup of the cuisine of Shan State and Northern Thailand, as well as the kaeng khae curry.