The amazing kapok tree occupies a very important role in the Amazon rainforest ecosystem.
An emergent tree that rises above the canopy of the rainforest, it can grow up to 13 feet in a single year.It is the giant of the Amazon rainforest, towering up to 200 feet (70 meters) in height and a trunk that can expand to 9 or 10 feet in diameter.
Known as Ceiba in Ecuador and arbol de lupuna in Peru, the Ceiba Pentandra belongs to the balsa family tree.
In fact, its long, straight trunk it's been traditionally used by Amazon rainforest indians to make dugout canoes - a process that involves up to 12 men and several month to complete.
Rainforest Indian tribes have many uses for the kapok tree, even for medicinal purposes. Its seeds, leaves, bark and resin is used to treat fever, asthma, dysentery and kidney disease.
It has long been considered sacred for indigenous people of the Americas, including Mayan culture.
The crown has an open umbrella shape, its wood colour varies from pinkish-white to brown.
Kapok tree provides between 500 and 4,000 fruits at one time, each fruit containing up to 200 seeds.
Its fiber is eight times lighter than cotton and several times more buoyant than cork, extremely thermal insulating as well as being odorless, non-allergic and non-toxic.
Industrial use includes providing filling for pillows, mattresses and also life jackets,
There is a nice little book by Lynne Cherry: "The great kapok tree : a tale of the Amazon rainforest". You can buy it from Amazon.com
The many different animals that live in a great kapok tree in the Brazilian rainforest try to convince a man with an ax of the importance of not cutting down their home.
Exhausted from his labors, a man chopping down a great kapok tree in the Brazilian rainforest puts down his ax, and, as he sleeps, the animals who live in the tree plead with him not to destroy their world.Read the full story here..
Let's have a quick look at the giant kapok tree through this short video captured near Iquitos, Peru...