The Kapok tree, Ceiba pentandra, is a tropical tree native to northern South America extending to Mexico in the north. It belongs to the Bombacaceae family (today often included in the Malvaceae family).
The Kapok is an extremely fast growing tree and can reach 60-70 meters (200-230 ft). It has a very substantial trunk up to 3 m (10 ft) in diameter. The trunk and most of the branches are often, like this tree shows, crowded with large, prickly thorns.
When the tree has reached the adult stage it produces several hundred of flowers followed by big, oval seed pods. The pods contain seeds surrounded by a fluffy, yellowish white fiber that resembles cotton. However it is difficult to spin, so instead it is often used as filling in pillows, mattresses and similar stuff.
In tropical and subtropical regions the tree is grown as an ornamental. Here it is planted in a private garden in Karen in Nairobi