Chorisia speciosa
Common Name: silk floss tree 
Type: Tree
Family: Malvaceae
Native Range: Brazil, Argentina
Zone: 9 to 10
Height: 40.00 to 60.00 feet
Spread: 20.00 to 40.00 feet
Bloom Time: October to November
Bloom Description: Pink to rose-purple
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Flowering Tree
Flower: Showy
Fruit: Showy
Other: Thorns

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-10. Best with consistent moisture in humusy, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates some light shade, but best flowering is in full sun. Trees with established root systems have some drought tolerance. Leaves drop when temperatures sink below 27 degrees F.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Chorisia speciosa commonly called silk floss tree is a conical deciduous tree with somewhat irregular branching that is native to tropical and sub-tropical forested areas of Argentina and Brazil where it often rises to 40-60' tall. This tree is now grown as a showy flowering tree in many tropical areas around the globe. It performs well in southern Florida, parts of California and Hawaii. It will typically develop an attractive, rounded, umbrella-like crown over time. Trunks and branches are armed with stout triangular spines. Trunks are green in youth, but may eventually mature to gray. Each palmate, compound, light green leaf has 5-7 serrate, lanceolate leaflets (each to 5" long). Leaves typically drop in fall before this tree blooms. Open, five-petaled, funnel-shaped flowers (3-5" diameter) which somewhat resemble hibiscus bloom late fall to early winter. Flowers are quite showy, featuring pink to rose-purple petals with creamy white to yellowish-white throats. Flowers are followed by pear-shaped capsules (fruit pods) filled with seed embedded in silky white floss (hence the common name of silk floss tree). In its native territory, floss has been harvested for a number of uses including stuffing pillows. Capsules split open in spring when ripe releasing the seeds into the wind. This fruit rarely sets on trees grown outside of tropical areas.

This tree was recently removed by some experts from the Bombacaceae family to the Malvaceae family and renamed Ceiba speciosa. Hibiscus is in the mallow family (silk floss tree and hibiscus have similar flowers) and Kapok tree is in the Ceiba genus (silk floss tree and kapok both have silky floss in seed pods). RHS still recognizes Chorisia as the genus name.

Genus name honors botanical artist Ludwig (Louis) Choris (1795-1828).

Specific epithet means showy.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Leaf spot may occur. Watch for scale. Difficult to propagate from seed or cuttings.

Garden Uses

Specimen. Flowering tree. This tree may be grown in containers.