Amazon rainforest, Peru

The kapok tree is a giant in the Amazon rainforest of Peru.  It can reach up to 200 feet in height, sometimes growing as much as 13 feet per year. Due to its extreme height, the kapok, or ceiba tree, towers over the other rainforest vegetation creating the canopy.

The trunk can expand to nine or 10 feet in diameter. The kapok tree is deciduous, shedding all of its leaves during the dry season.

Rainforest Indian tribes have many uses for the kapok tree, including medicinal. Its seeds, leaves, bark and resin are used to treat fever, asthma, dysentery and kidney disease.  It is considered sacred by the indigenous people of the Americas and they use the kapok floss to wrap around their poison darts.

The crown has an open umbrella shape, its wood colour varies from pinkish-white to brown.  The Kapok tree provides between 500 and 4,000 fruits at one time, each fruit containing up to 200 seeds.

Its fiber is eight times lighter than cotton and several times more buoyant than cork, Amazon rainforest indians use the tree to make dugout canoes.  Industrial uses include providing filling for pillows, mattresses and life jackets.

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