Large tree to 80' m height with a broad, thin, flat-topped crown of spreading horizontal branches commonly broader than the height of the tree trunk massive, to 8' or more in diameter with large buttresses extending 10' or more outward over the widely spreading roots.
Bark: Gray, smooth; conical spines about 1 1 /2'' high are found on young growth, but generally missing on older wood.
Leaves: Deciduous, alternate, palmately compound; leaflets 5 to 8 in number, short-stemmed, lance-shaped to narrowly elliptic each 3" to 8" long on petioles to 8" in length; bright to dark green above, dull green beneath.
Flowers: Showy, whitish to pink; 1 ½” long and broad, borne in clusters near twig ends.
Flowering: December to February, but not every year.
Fruit: Oblong to elliptic hanging seed capsule to 6" in length; filled with brown seeds and cotton-like, woolly floss; seeds dispersed by wind after splitting of capsule in spring.
GROWTH RATE: Past.
SALT TOLERANCE: Medium.
DROUGHT TOLERANCE: High.
PROPAGATION METHODS: Seeds, cuttings.
This giant tree is a centerpiece for a park, plaza, or large garden; may also be planted along rural mads. Its large trunk and butttressed surface roots make planting anything under it difficult.
The wood is soft and of little use except for light construction. The floss from the seed pods the kapok of commerce and was once used widely in life preservers, pillows, and mattress stuffing. The leaves have been used in baths to relieve fatigue and cancel the effects of poisoning; also used as a poultice for sore or sprained feet.
This tree is still plentiful in country areas and needs no immediate conservation
NATURAL DISTRIBUTION ON ST. CROIX
Scattered and distributed along guts and open hillsides.