Kapok

Botanical Name :Ceiba pentandra
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Ceiba
Species: C. pentandra
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malvales

Common Name :Kapok,Silk Cotton Tree, Simal, Red Cotton Tree

Habitat :Ceiba pentandra is native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, northern South America, and (as the variety C. pentandra var. guineensis) to tropical west Africa.

Description:
The tree grows to 60-70 m (200-230 ft) tall and has a very substantial trunk up to 3 m (10 ft) in diameter with buttresses. The trunk and many of the larger branches are often (but not always) crowded with very large, robust simple thorns. The leaves are compound of 5 to 9 leaflets, each up to 20 cm (8 in) and palm like. Adult trees produce several hundred 15 cm (6 in) seed pods. The pods contain seeds surrounded by a fluffy, yellowish fibre that is a mix of lignin and cellulose.

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Medicinal Uses;
The seed, leaves, bark and resin havebeen used to treat dysentery,asthma and kidney disease. Internally it also used for abnormal utrine bleeding,diarrhea in children(gum),bronchial cong (bark,leaves) Externally in bath  , for fevers and headaches (bark,leaves) and wounds(bark). The claim by  Nigerian tradional herbal medicine practiones that the silk cotton tree, barks has antibiotic  properities was investigated. Diabetes mellitus was induced with  streptozotocin and graded dose of the aqueous bark extract caused a statically significant reduction in plasma glucose level in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats.The extract appeared non toxic as evidance by normal serum levels at AST,ALT andbilirubin. The data appear to support the hypoglycemic effects of C. pentandra.
Ceiba pentandra bark decoction has been used as a diuretic, aphrodisiac, and to treat headache, as well as type II diabetes.

Ceiba pentandra is used as an additive to some versions of the hallucinogenic drink Ayahuasca.

Other Uses:
The fibre is light, very buoyant, resilient and resistant to water. The process of harvesting and separating the fibre is labour-intensive and manual. It is difficult to spin but is used as an alternative to down as filling in mattresses, pillows, upholstery, zafus, and stuffed toys such as teddy bears, and for insulation. It was previously much used in life jackets and similar devices until synthetic materials largely replaced the fibre. The seeds produce an oil used locally in soap and that can be used as fertilizer.

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Native tribes along the Amazon River harvest the kapok fibre to wrap around their blowgun darts. The fibres create a seal that allows the pressure to force the dart through the tube.

The commercial tree is most heavily cultivated in the rainforests of Asia, notably in Java (hence its nicknames), Philippines, Malaysia, Hainan Island in China as well as in South America.

The flowers are an important source of nectar and pollen for honeybees.

This tree is the official national tree of Puerto Rico and Guatemala.

Ceiba pentandra is used as an additive to some versions of the hallucinogenic drink Ayahuasca.

Kapok seed oil
A pressed seed oil can be derived from from the seeds of the kapok tree. The oil has a yellow color and a pleasant, mild odor and taste.[1]. It has similar characteristics to cottonseed oil. It becomes rancid quickly when exposed to air. Kapok oil is produced in India, Indonesia and Malaysia. It has an iodine value of 85-100, which makes it a nondrying oil. This means that it does not dry out significantly when exposed to the air.[1]. Kapok oil has some potential as a biofuel and in paint preparation.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceiba_pentandra
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_IJK.htm

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