Unusual Fall Color: the Floss Silk Tree

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This is not your typical fall color! The floss silk trees (Ceiba speciosa) are in bloom and they put on a great show, but their pink flowers are not your usual fall color. This curious tree also has a thick green trunk covered in spines which can be seen in the pictures below. The trunk is often bottle-shaped (wider at the base and narrower as you move up) which you can also see in the photos below.
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This tree can grow up to 50’ tall and have a spread of 55’. It is fast growing at first and then slows down as the tree matures. The floss silk tree is considered a lovely specimen tree in the landscape. The trees lose their leaves in September and are usually bare by the time the spectacular flowers burst. The beautiful flowers are seen between September and December. After that the tree remains mostly bare until spring when the leaves flush out again. The leaves are palmately compound with 5-7 leaflets (not pictured). Between the blooms and the new leaves you will see the seed pods. They look like big white cotton balls that come from pear-shaped pods. The “silk” found in these pods was once used as stuffing for pillows and mattresses.
If you don’t have one of these beautiful trees near you please come by and visit the Extension office- the pictures you see here were taken of the one in our parking lot. You can’t miss it this time of year!

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