Prettiest pink show on the road towards the Lowveld

Posted by Magda on Tue April 21, 2015 in Nature.

Enjoy the fabulous show of cascades of pink flowere from the kapok tree, lining many of the roads in the lowveld now in April

The sheer abundance of the masses of pink flowers of the kapok trees in April on the Lowveld roads are a source of delight for visitors.  Ceiba Pendrata, or commonly known as the kapok tree due to the fibres bursting from its  seedpods , is a tropical tree native to Mexico, the Caribbean and Northern South America. This monster of a tree, easily recognised by the large knobbly thorns on trunk and branches, can reach heights of 200-230ft with a diameter of up to 10 ft and live up to 300 years.

It is a tree of magic and delight. I had the privilege many years ago of being enchanted by recently opened seedpods exposing the fibres  -  glowing like candles on a moonlit night, and have never forgotten the sight. Bats and bees are nurtured by the pollen and nectar of the flowers, the lightweight wood is used in carvings and dugout canoes, fibres are naturally insect repellent and used as stuffing in bedding and toys , the oils produced by seeds are used in soap or fertilizer and a decoction of the bark is used for medicinal purposes. A truly remarkable  tree, worthy of being  the symbol of Porto Rico.

Word of caution: not for small or medium gardens – the root buttresses can lift foundations!