Wild Kapok | Kapok tree and silky fibre

wild kapokIn China wild Kapok is grown as a natural wild fibre like wild cotton but finer and softer, collected from wild kopak trees mainly in the southern areas of Guangdong, guangxi and Yunnan.

The wild Kapok tree is a graceful and fascinating tree with long emerald green pinnate leaves ornamented with massed trusses of fluffy pink or red flowers. The seed pods contain silky kapok used for stuffing pillows.


The word Kapok refers both to the tree and to the silky fibre it produces, and sometimes refered to as silk cotton or Java cotton. The hair-like fibres that surround the kapok seeds are best used as a stuffing, where they have several advantages over more commonly used materials. Kapok fibres on their own are not suitable for spinning into yarn, as wild Kapok treethey are too smooth, slippery and brittle.

In the rain forest the wild kapok is a majestic tree that grows up to 60 meters tall and towers over other rain forest trees.

This huge tree needs to be stabilized by buttresses, making it very wide and up to 3 meters in diameter. The trunk and large branches often have very large thorns and the canopy supports a large variety of plants and animals.

Wild Kapok trees sheds its leaves in the dry season, revealing hundreds of 15 cm long leathery pods and small flowers that are pollinated by bats.

When mature, the pods burst open revealing a whitish silk like  fibre surrounding around small brown seeds which are dispersed by the wind.


Wild Kapok fibre obtained from the hairs covering the seeds are very silky and known as a bombacaceous tree, Ceiba pentandra (kapok tree or silk-cotton tree) used for stuffing pillows, etc, and also used for sound insulation.

kopak is similar to cotton in that both fibres are found around the plant seeds, rather than extracted from the stem or leaves.

The Kapok tree is also a perfect choice for a city courtyard where their rapid initial growth soon stops to create a living sculpture of spines and elegant fingered leaves.

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