The Floss-Silk Tree is one of the finest and most spectacular flowering trees of the tropics. It has large, bright pink, hibiscus-like flowers a bottle-shaped, spiny trunk and bright green bark. It is easy to grow in warm regions and so is one of the most popular flowering trees that is grown in the tropics. It is tolerant of mild frost so it can be grown in subtropical locations like central Florida and southern California. Chorisia speciosa is a conical deciduous tree with somewhat irregular branching that is native to tropical and sub-tropical forested areas of Argentina and Brazil where it often rises to 40-60' tall. This tree is now grown as a showy flowering tree in many tropical areas around the globe. It performs well in southern Florida, parts of California and Hawaii. It will typically develop an attractive, rounded, umbrella-like crown over time. Trunks and branches are armed with stout triangular spines. Trunks are green in youth, but may eventually mature to gray. Each palmate, compound, light green leaf has 5-7 serrate, lanceolate leaflets (each to 5" long). Leaves typically drop in fall before this tree blooms. Open, five-petaled, funnel-shaped flowers (3-5" diameter) which somewhat resemble hibiscus bloom late fall to early winter. Flowers are quite showy, featuring pink to rose-purple petals with creamy white to yellowish-white throats. Flowers are followed by pear-shaped capsules (fruit pods) filled with seed embedded in silky white floss (hence the common name of silk floss tree). In its native territory, floss has been harvested for a number of uses including stuffing pillows. Capsules split open in spring when ripe releasing the seeds into the wind. This fruit rarely sets on trees grown outside of tropical areas.
Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-10. Best with consistent moisture in humusy, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates some light shade, but best flowering is in full sun. Trees with established root systems have some drought tolerance. Leaves drop when temperatures sink below 27 degrees F. Specimen tree. Flowering tree. This tree may be grown in containers.
Growing Instructions for the floss-silk tree.
- Soak the seed in water for 24 hours.
- The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Put the soil in a pot. Water the mixture so that it is moist but not wet.
- Put the seeds on the soil.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil.
- Water the seeds.
- Place the pots in an area with warm temperatures in full sun or part shade. The seeds take 2-6 weeks to germinate.
- When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.