January 31, 2015
January 12, 2015
The only cotton silk tree (Ceiba pentandra) in the kampung behind Taman Sri Nibong is in full bloom. This tree, native to tropical America and West Africa, is the National Tree of Guatemala. From December to February, the pale yellow-ivory flowers turn into green pods and the once lush foliage of this tree fall to the ground like autumn leaves. When the rough, brownish, grey pods turn brown. They will burst open to reveal pure, soft, fluffy, cotton inside (see pic below). This silky cotton is in high commercial demand as they do not cause allergies when used as stuffings for pillow, cushions, mattresses and life-saving jackets. The seeds are rich in oil and protein that is both edible and useful for soap and lighting. Debris from seed pressing is used as livestock feed. This gargantuan tropical deciduous tree is a rare sight in the city and can only been found in some rural areas here today.
From my upstairs back balcony, I can see colourful birds flitting and singing beautifully from the branches and in the evenings, the sweet, milky-smelling blooms attract bats for pollination. Fireflies can also been seen from occasionally after sunset, dotting the night with their bright flashes of light. This tree also attracts some squirrels and a couple of musangs. We can enjoy nature in a city if we do not destroy our natural environment to build more high-rise apartments here in our beautiful Taman.
– Molly S.C. Ooi, Blog Editor