Ceiba Speciosa, Chorisia Speciosa , Silk floss tree, 20-100 seeds 2022

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Ceiba speciosa, the floss silk tree (formerly Chorisia speciosa), is a species of deciduous tree native to the tropical and subtropical forests of South America.

The natural habitat of the silk floss tree is in the north-east of Argentina, east of Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and southern Brazil. It is resistant to drought and moderate cold. It grows fast in spurts when water is abundant, and sometimes reaches more than 25 meters (82 ft) in height. Its trunk is bottle-shaped, generally bulging in its lower third, measuring up to 2 meters (7 ft) in girth. The trunk is also studded with thick, sharp conical prickles which deter wild animals from climbing the trees. In younger trees, the trunk is green due to its high chlorophyll content, which makes it capable of performing photosynthesis when leaves are absent; with age it turns to grey.

The branches tend to be horizontal and are also covered with prickles. The leaves are composed of five to seven long leaflets. The flowers are creamy-whitish in the center and pink towards the tips of their five petals. They measure 10 to 15 centimeters (4 to 6 in) in diameter and their shape is superficially similar to hibiscus flowers. Their nectar is known to attract insect pollinators, as well as hummingbirds. C. speciosa flowers are in bloom between February and May (in its native Southern Hemisphere), but can also bloom at other times of the year. The flowers of the related C. chodatii are similar in form and size, but their color goes from creamy white centers to yellow tips. As a deciduous tree, it is completely bare of leaves and flowers during the winter months, especially when growing outside of its native South America habitat.

The fruits are ligneous ovoid capsules, 20 centimeters (8 in) long, which contain bean-sized black seeds surrounded by a mass of fibrous, fluffy matter reminiscent of cotton or silk.

Growing Ceiba Speciosa from seed

Sowing time: spring (it is deciduous tree, the seedling needs time to to gain strength before going winter dormant).

Germination temperature: 25-30°C

Pre-Treatment: soak in lukewarm water for 24-48 hours (until seeds sunk to the bottom)

Sowing mix: compost + perlite or sand, readymade compost for seeds and cuttings

Water: moist potting mix, not wet

Germination time: 7 days and more

Germination Method: soak the seeds in lukewarm water 24 hours or until all the seeds sunk to the bottom. It is an important part of the germination process which will induce germination process.

The next step will depend of your preference – baggy method or sowing directly in the potting mixture.

1. Take 1 or 2 sheet of kitchen towel, better plain white without prints. Put your pre-soaked seeds on paper, spray with water (or 4-5 of water and 1 part of hydrogen peroxide). Fold or roll the paper and put in the sealable bag or platic container. Store at the place with temperature above +25°C until germination occurs (check after 5-7 days). Once the germination starts the seeds will open releasing hydrogel (this is the point why I love baggy method which allows you to see the process of the plant being borne behind the scene). I would not recommend to transfer the seed to the soil straight away but wait until the taproot appears.
Prepare individual pots 6-8 cm (3 inch) with potting medium with 1 part of compost and 1 part of sand or perlite (readymade compost for seeds will works as well). Sow the seeds 1 cm deep in the medium. Spray with water and keep moist during but not dump. Keep at the same temperature +25-30°C. Some of my seeds just didn’t sprout, the possible reasons I could assume: 1) I moved seeds to soil to early, 2) the room temperature was lower then +25°C and the germination ceased.

Take care of the young seedlings the same way how you do with the similar plants. Keep them in sheltered position avoiding wind and direst sunlight, water moderately not allowing the soil to dry up. For the first winter I would suggest to keep the young seedling in the cold frame.
Ceiba speciosa is tolerant to light frost up to -5°C, but I would refer it to the trees over 3 y.o., planted in soil.
Please if you see some inaccuracies in the description or you have your own germination method let me about it, I’d love to hear your feedback.