The Silk Cotton or Ceiba Tree [Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn.] is one of the largest trees in the American tropics. The tree has played an important role in the spiritual and economic lives of the peoples who live in the circum-Caribbean region.These fruits contain many seeds surrounded by a dense mat of cottony fibers. The tree gets its common name from these fibers which rain from the tree when the fruits ripen. The fibers are almost pure cellulose, buoyant, impervious to water, and have a low thermal conductivity, but they do not lend themselves to spinning. Called Kapok in Asia, the fibers are used for insulation, padding in sleping bags and life preservers, and for stuffing mattresses and pillows. In Puerto Rico the tree was often planted in the center of plazas for shade, and it is considered a valuable Money Tree.
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