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Bombax Cotton Fiber Properties and Uses The Stricker

Bombax Cotton Fiber | Properties and Uses

Bombax cotton Fiber is also known as tree cotton or vegetable down. The genus is best known for the species Bombax ceiba, which is widely cultivated throughout tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It is native to southern and eastern Asia and northern Australia.

Bombax Cotton Fiber

The seed floss’s individual fibers, soft and ranging from pale yellow to brown in color, are about 0.5 to 3.25 cm (0.25 to 1.25 inches) long and 20 to 40 microns (a micron is about 0.00004 inch) in diameter. Unlike the fibers of common commercial cotton (Gossypium), bombax cotton fibers come from hairs that grow from the side of the seedpod instead of from the seed itself.

Although sometimes mixed with common-cotton fibers for spinning, bombax cotton is weaker and less elastic and contains the woody plant substance lignin, making it unsatisfactory for use alone as a textile fiber. The floss is used primarily as wadding and upholstery material.

Plants producing bombax cotton include Bombax septenatum, yielding the strongest and longest fibers, ranging from 2 to 3 cm (0.8 to 1.2 inches) in length, and B. ceiba, with fibers about 1 to 1.5 cm (0.4 to 0.6 inch) long, both growing in tropical areas of the Western Hemisphere, where the floss is sometimes called ceiba cotton or paina limpa.

In southern Asia and Africa the fibers of B. malabarica, called simal cotton, or red silk cotton, in India, are about 1 to 2 cm long. The term tree cotton is also sometimes applied to floss obtained from Gossypium arboreum, a plant species growing chiefly in Asia.

Bombax ceiba – L.

Common Name Red Silk Cotton Tree, Kapok Tree
Family Malvaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The seed is poisonous if ingested
Habitats Hot, dry river valleys, savannah; at elevations below 1,400 meters in southern China[ 266 ]. Humid lowland deciduous forests[ 307 ]. Often found near stream banks[ 320 ].
Range E. Asia – southern China, Indian subcontinent, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines to Papua New Guinea and Australia.
Edibility Rating         (2 of 5)
Other Uses         (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating         (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun

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