The Silk Cotton Tree (Ceiba Tree or Ceiba pentandra) is a source of awe for many Jamaicans. They believe “duppies” live there, and fishermen who used the tree’s wood for dugout canoes would never cut one down without making offerings to the tree’s spirits. In fact, the trees are revered in many parts of the world. The tree is viewed as sacred in West Africa, and the ancient Mayan people also regarded it as a sacred object. Mexican Mayas believe the first human was born from this tree. The Silk Cotton Tree is the national tree of Guatemala. There is a legend that the trees are haunted because they were used to hang slaves and criminals. A fast-growing deciduous tree, the Silk Cotton Tree can reach heights of 80 feet or more, with a diameter of five to eight feet. The fruits of the tree contain many seeds that are surrounded by a mass of cottony fibers; these fibers rain down from the tree when the fruits open. The fibers comprise nearly pure cellulose, which is impervious to water, buoyant, and have low thermal conductivity. The material is called kapok and is used to stuff mattresses and pillows.
Photo Courtesy @kchookolingo | Instagram