Ceiba pentrandra (Malvaceae) - kapok seed
Seed from the Kew Millennium Seed Bank collection at Wakehurst, outside London in the UK.
Ceiba pentrandra (Malvaceae) - kapok, Java cotton, Java kapok, silk cotton; native to tropical America; Inside the large capsules, the smooth, globular seeds are embedded in a mass of white silky hair produced by the carpel walls. These hairs have some valuable properties. Due to the wide air-filled lumina they are extremely light and provide a good insulation material and stuffing for mattresses. Moreover, the hairs possess a waterproof outer layer (cuticle) which renders them almost unwettable. Able to support thirty times its own weight in water, kapok is therefore also used as a stuffing for life vests. Kapok has also been used e.g. for arrow-proof jackets by Matico Indians.
- ©Jim Richardson
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- WORLD FOOD: Seeds