What is the plant
A tropical tree native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, northern South America, and to tropical west Africa, Kapok Tree or Ceiba pentandra is now a widely cultivated in Southeast Asia for its seed fibre. It is fast growing and reaches up to 70 m in height and 3 m in trunk diameter. The trunk is buttressed and large simple thorns, similar to that of on many of the larger branches, are found on it. The crown is thin and pagoda shaped. The leaves are palmate, with 5 to 9 leaflets each. Kapok produces several pods that contain seeds covered by fibre. Kapok fibre is yellowish in colour, light, very buoyant, water resistant, resilient, but very flammable. It is used as stuffing in mattresses, pillows, etc. The seed of kapok yields oil that is used in making soap and as fertilizer. The seed is edible either raw or cooked (roasted and ground into powder). Tender leaves, buds, and fruits are eaten like Abelmoschus moschatus or okra. The flowers are blanched and eaten with chilli sauce; dried stamens are added to curries and soups. Bark decoction, on the other hand, is used as a diuretic, aphrodisiac, and as treatment for headache and diabetes. Kapok, in general, is used medicinally for fever, spasms, and bleeding. Different plant parts have a wide range of medicinal functions as well.
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