The Amazing Kapok Tree

hekapok-pod

One of the trees in Amritapuri’s Saraswati Garden is a Kapok tree (Ceiba pentandra) I have learned that these trees can reach a height of  200 feet. My guess is that the one in the Saraswati Garden is 125-150 feet high. It is the tallest tree in the garden.

When I looked for photos of Kapok trees on Wikimedia Commons and Google Images, I saw that the trunk of the trees can be gigantic, such as the one in this photo:

Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

They can also be small like this one in Amritapuri.

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I stood by the Kapok tree in the Saraswati Garden and looked up. Notice how the building’s metal roof has been cut away so that it doesn’t impact the tree.

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I looked for a place to take a photo that showed both the bottom part of the tree and the part that was above the house.

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I still couldn’t see the top of the tree from where I was standing, so I found a different vantage point.

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Seed pods, like the one at the top of this post, drop from the tree when they are ready. Inside, there is a substance that is very silky. It also bears resemblance to cotton and wool. Notice the seeds that are scattered throughout the silky material.

A Rainforest Alliance article said this about the Kapok tree:

The majestic kapok tree has many uses for humans. Its wood is lightweight and porous; good for making carvings, coffins and dugout canoes. The silky fibers that disperse the seeds are too small for weaving but make great stuffing for bedding and life preservers. Soaps can be made from the oils in the seeds. Other parts of the giant tree are used as medicines. In ancient times, the Maya believed that the kapok tree stood at the center of the earth.

In Amritapuri, the pod contents are being used to stuff meditation pillows. I look forward to telling the devotees who are working in this garden that the oil in the seeds can be used for making soap and that pillows stuffed with the silky filaments will float!

To look at previous posts in this Amritapuri series, click here.

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