Hong Kong Flora Episode #1: The Red Cotton Tree

Hot on the heels of the smash-hit series ‘The birds of Hong Kong’ (there was only one post!)… welcome to my latest endeavour: ‘Hong Kong Flora’.

Tree number one is the Red Cotton Tree (Bombay Ceiba). This Asian tropical produces striking red flowers in the spring, and grows to a lofty 20 meters. Every part of the tree (bark, flower, seeds, gum, roots) is used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine and the Chinese make tea from the flowers.

The one in our local park looks like this:


Or if you’re in the spring, and you know how to use a camera, they look like this:

This tree’s highlight is the most wonderful way it disperses its seeds.

In the autumn it produces 10 cm-long pods that when ripe open to release 100s of seeds that are carried on the winds by delicate cotton-like fibres.

Gold Coast resident and budding dendrologist, Muky, recalled collecting these little cotton balls as a child with her grandmother and making pillows.

I was lucky enough to find an unopened pod under the tree and what a delight! Compressed together they feel like velvet – or a ‘baby penguin’ or Muky observed.

in this video Muky opens this very pod to the soothing sounds of carefully curated sentimental music. Enjoy:

9 thoughts on “Hong Kong Flora Episode #1: The Red Cotton Tree

  1. That video is so relaxing and disturbing at the same time. I keep on expecting something alien to come thru, but don’t mind me 😅 thanks for sharing this!


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