Online Manual for the Forest Tree Seeds of Kerala

A Kerala Forest Department Funded Project

Dr. K Sudhakara
Professor & Head of the Department
Dept. of Silviculture & Agroforestry
College of Forestry, Kerala Agricultural University, Thrissur 680 656
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Scientific Name  Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn.
Vernacular name  Panji - ilavu, Panaya (Malayalam) (Gamble, 1922); Ilavam (Tamil)
Common name  White silk cotton, True kapok
Synonyms  Eriodendron anfractuosum DC.(Sasidharan, 2004); Bombax pentandrum, E.orientala (Gamble, 1922).
Family  Bombacaceae
Origin  Tropical America (Sasidharan, 2004).
Distribution  Introduced in the Amazon , common in South India , Andamans, Sri Lanka and Myanmar (Sahni, 2000).
Description  A small to medium sized tree, young stems bear conical prickles, the branches arise in whorls and the adult trees are buttressed (Sahni, 2000).
Flowering season  In India, flowers appear in December to January, just before at the time as new leaves. They open at night, emit a powerful odour and secrete a copious amount of nectar (Sahni, 2000). January to March (Bose et al., 1998).
Fruiting season  March to April (Sahni, 2000); May to June (Bose et al., 1998).
Flowers  Dirty white with a milky smell, and much smaller than those of red silk cotton. Calyx bell-shaped, green with 5 obtuse teeth, persistent. Petals twice to 3 times the length of calyx, 5, oblong, connate at the base, about 2.5 cm across; stamens 5, with 2 or three anthers (Sahni, 2000). Pollination is, largely effected by nectar feeding bats.
Fruits  Fruit is a capsule, ovoid, oblong, 7 to 12 cm long, green, turning brown when ripe, containing long, white silky floss (Bose et al., 1998). 5-valved, many seeded (Sahni, 2000).
Fruit type  Capsule.
Seeds  Enclosed in separate woolly balls.
Seed length 
Seed width 
Seed thickness 
Seed weight  15,860 seeds/kg
Seed dispersal  Bats.
Seed Collection  Ripe fruits are collected from the trees during October to November and seeds are extracted, cleaned and stored (Vanangamudi and Natarajan, 2006).
Transportation of seeds 
Seed processing 
Seed storage  Orthodox type and medium in storage (Vanangamudi and Natarajan, 2006).
Viability period 
Seed emptiness 
Seed pre treatment  Not required.
Germination type 
Germination percentage  90
Germination period 
Nursery technique  Seeds are sown in mother bed and pricked out to polythene bags at 4-leaf stage (Vanangamudi and Natarajan, 2006).
Method of propagation  By cuttings.
Vegetative propagation 
Medicinal properties  The root extract of this tree is said to cure diabetes. The gum from trunk is used for the treatment of stomach ailments.The bark of the tree is febrifuge and the fruit is effective to cure migraine (Bose et al., 1998).
Uses  The tree is important owing to the excellent quality of the white floss from its fruits which is superior in quality to other vegetable floss and is the real 'kapok' of commerce. It is much used for stuffing cushions. Owing to its buoyancy and resistance to water it is in demand for making lifebuoys (Bose et al., 1998). It is used for plywood, packaging, lumber core stock, light construction, pulp and paper products and also locally for canoes and rafts.
Wood properties  The wood is greyish white without any distinct heartwood. It is extremely soft and light with straight grain and coarse texture. It is a diffuse porous wood with fairly distinct growth marks delimited by bands of soft tissues. Pores very large, very scanty, often subdivided. Medullary rays fine, the distance between them less than the diameter of the pores (Gamble, 1922).
References  Get ...
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