Bombax ceiba

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Photographs by: Dr. Maulik Gadani

  • Botanical Name : Bombax ceiba L.
  • Synonyms : Bombax malabaricum DC.
  • Common Name : Shimlo, Red-Silk Cotton
  • Plant Family : Bombacaceae
  • Originally this plant was placed in family Malvaceae by Bentham and Hooker but later on as per new modern views it is placed in a separate family Bombacaceae.

  • Plant Form : Tree
  • Occurrence (Sectors) : 12, 13, 15, 16, 20
  • Occurrence (Special Areas) : Gujarat Forestry Research Foundation, Indroda Park, Van Chetana Kendra

About Bombax ceiba Plant :

  • Habit : 10-30m tall, perennial, large-sized, deciduous tree.
  • Stem : Woody, solid, erect, columnar trunk, grey, glabrous bark with hard conical black prickles, delicate branches cylindrical, glabrous, smooth with distinct nodes and internodes.
  • Leaves : Compound, digitate, leaflets 2-7, dorsiventral, entire, unicostate reticulate venation, oval or lanceolate, acute at the base, with a sharp point at the apex, petiolate, stipulate (free lateral and caducous), alternate, pentastichous.
  • Inflorescence : Solitary or cluster of several extra-axillary flowers. At the time of flowering, the tree becomes almost leafless.
  • Flowers :
    • Complete, pedicellate, bract caducous, actinomorphic, bisexual, pentamerous, hypogynous, cyclic, epicalyx absent.
    • Calyx made up of sepals 5, gamosepalous, cup-shaped, persistent, fleshy, leathery, greenish-purple, valvate.
    • Corolla made up of petals 5, polypetalous, scarlet, twisted. Petals fleshy, sessile, entire, oblong, 2-3" long, tomentose and covered with stellate hairs on both sides.
    • Stamens numerous (about 70), polyadelphous, forming staminal groups or bundles, one staminal bundle around the carpels while 5 bundles towards the periphery alternating with petals, filaments exerted, facing the centre, quadrangular, pale yellow, shining, containing mucilaginous colourless juice, anthers long, monothecous, reniform, purple-brown, dehiscence longitudinal, extrorse.
    • Gynoecium composed of 5 carpels, syncarpous, superior, pentalocular, 2-4 ovules in each locule, axile placentation, style simple, pentangular, glabrous, apical end diving into  parts, basal half whitish-pink, stigmas 5, scarlet.
  • Fruit : An oblong, 4-5" long, loculicidal capsule.
  • Seeds : Gglabrous, with wooly fibrous outgrowths of silky hairs.
  • Flowering and Fruiting Time : February-March
  • Significance :
    • Roots yield a medicine used in impotency.
    • Fibres are used in filling cushions.
    • Wood is used in preparing match boxes and match sticks.