Well, here's me all excited by a strange, rare and exotic tree that I met in the
flesh bark for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and Judy has had one in her back garden!
Here are the rest of the images I took of Ceiba speciosa, also known as palo borracho in Spanish. It's one of the kapok family, and also related to the baobab. The green patterns and spikes on the trunk reminds me of some kind of chameleon or one of those spiky lizards that the Australian outback seems to spontaneously generate.
The flowers are very pretty as you can see. They look a lot like hibiscus or mallow flowers, and, not surprisingly, are the same family. But obviously this branch (ha ha) of the family is not vertically challenged at all. Ceiba speciosa can grow to 25 metres (75 feet) if they get enough water.
The pods contain a fluff, like kapok. Unlike cotton it isn't suitable for spinning but used to be used for stuffing. Remember those old kapok mattresses? And I'm sure my old Teddy bear had kapok insides.
This specimen was growing in 'Wharepuke' - a 5 acre private jungle-like garden in Kerikeri, New Zealand, where we stayed a couple of nights recently. The owners told us that Northland's summer drought seems to have especially increased the number of flowers, as the tree looks particularly flamboyant this year.