Tree Species (Scientific Name)
Ceiba pentandra
English Common Name
Kapok Tree
Peru Common Name
Palo algodón, Lupuna blanca
Tree Family
Average Leaf Size (cm)
Tree Height
Large (> 35m)
Elevational Range (m)
0 3000
Native to Peru

Native to

Latin America
Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela

Coffee Agroforestry Information

Coffee System
Coffee Impact
Beneficial to coffee
Common in Coffee Agroforestry
Tree Management
Plant the seeds as soon as they are ripe. They will germinate within 3 to 4 months. Cuttings of stems 1.2-2 meters long can also be planted directly into the ground. The seeds are dispersed by the wind. Trees of this species drop their leaves during the dry season. The trees are very large and have thorns so the fruits are difficult to collect, but ideally they should be collected before the fruits open and release the seeds (120-175 per fruit) to the wind. The fruits are allowed to open in the sun and the cottony fiber that surrounds the seeds is separated (approx. 15 thousand per kg). Without pregermination treatment, an average of 71% germination is obtained with fresh seeds, which begins 8 days after sowing. Seeds stored at 20°C remain viable for up to 2 months. Growth in nursery is very fast. Seedlings can reach 30-40 cm in height in a time of 3 months. They require full light during their initial development. Fiber is irritating to the eyes, nose and throat, and workers exposed to dust for long periods can develop chronic bronchitis. It has a low incidence of pests.

Tree Benefits and Uses

Farmer Uses
  • Food
  • Firewood
  • Lumber
  • Medicinal
  • Ornamental
  • Product
It is susceptible to insect and fungal attacks, but is used in lightweight construction to make plywood, packaging, boxes and drawers, cheap furniture, matches, plywood, packaging, boxes, paper products, and was traditionally used to make canoes, rafts and agricultural implements. The new leaves, sprouts and fruits are eaten like okra. The seeds are roasted and ground into powder and eaten in soups and used for flavoring. A cooking oil of pleasant taste is extracted from the seed. Dried stamens of the flower are added to curry and used to color soup. The flowers are used as a remedy for constipation. The powdered fruit is taken with water as a remedy for intestinal parasites and stomach pain. The fiber of the seed is used to clean wounds. Seed oil is used topically to relieve rheumatism and is also applied to heal wounds. The fiber of the seed is used for the filling of pillows, mattresses and cushions.
Farm Services
  • Coffee Shade
  • Soil Improvement
  • Erosion Control
  • Reforestation
Coffee Shade: provides sparse to medium shade and has been cultivated to provide shade for coffee and cocoa
Biodiversity Benefits
Erosion Control: it is suitable for watershed protection