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Research and Conservation in Southern Sonora, Mexico

Ceiba acuminata (kapok, pochote)

A common and widespread tree in tropical deciduous forest, extending into adjacent oak woodland and thornscrub. Easy to recognize by its very prickly main stems. The degree of prickliness is highly variable and some trees may nearly lack them.

The nocturnal flowers open in May and June and are pollinated by bats. Large oval fruits hang on the trees until winter, when they split open with an audible pop. The seeds are embedded in a large mass of cottony kapok fibers.


Ceiba acuminata in tropical deciduous forest near Alamos, Sonora. Photo: T.R. Van Devender

Ceiba acuminata flower. Photo: Erik F. Enderson
Above: Layered prickles adorn mature trunks of Ceiba acuminata. Photos: Mark Dimmitt


Ceiba acuminata in fruit near Alamos, Sonora. Photo: Mark Dimmitt


When the fruit opens, the ball of kapok fibers expands and releases the large seeds. Photo: George M. Ferguson

Prickles on a young stem of Ceiba acuminata. Photo: T.R. Van Devender