Advanced Search Filters

Plant Type
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
Sunset Zone
Function
Sun Exposure
Soil Moisture
Water Requirement

CEIBA pentandra 'Variegata'

Image of Ceiba pentandra 'Variegata'

James Burghardt

Family

Bombacaceae

Botanical Name

CEIBA pentandra 'Variegata'

Plant Common Name

Variegated Kapok, Variegated Silk Cotton Tree

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Impressive in size and muscular in form, variegated kapok has fragrant dull white flowers in late winter followed by white and green foliage. A massive deciduous tree native to South America, it has been cultivated all across the tropics for so long that often it is misleadingly listed as native to Africa, southern Asia or "pantropical". With ages the trunk becomes magnificently buttressed.

In late winter and early spring, while the tree is barren of leaves, the green-gray branches bear five-petaled, waxy, creamy white to light yellow flowers that smell of milk. First opening at night, these pendent clusters of blossoms are pollinated naturally by bats. The boat-shaped fruits that form thereafter are first green and ripen to a felty dark brown, splitting open to reveal the white cotton fiber balls (the "kapok") surrounding the black seeds. From spring to autumn the horizontal branches also are cloaked in large palmate (hand-like) leaves the size of a dinner plate. Each leaf has five to seven oval leaflets that are green with creamy white edges.

Grow kapok in full sun in a spacious location in a fertile, well-draining soil. Water graciously in the growing season but ensure a prolonged dry period in winter. Small branches are somewhat brittle in wind. It is no less than spectacular as a specimen shade tree for parks, large estates or public gardens. There are seemingly two natural forms of this species: one has smooth bark and has creamy white flowers while another has more brownish bark that often retains thorns and produces flowers that are more reddish.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 9

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 12

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    70'-120' / 21.3m - 36.6m

  • Width

    40'-60' / 12.2m - 18.3m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Winter

  • Native To

    South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Pollution, Drought, Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Ivory

  • Fruit Color

    Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    White, Green

  • Foliage Color (Spring) Modifier

    Variegated

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Ivory

  • Foliage Color (Summer) Modifier

    Variegated

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Ivory

  • Foliage Color (Fall) Modifier

    Variegated

  • Bark Color

    Gray Green, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Shade Trees, Street Trees, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No