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Ceiba pentandra

Ceiba pentandra of the family Malvaceae (previously was in Bombacaceae). Also called kapok and cotton tree, among some 280 other common names. This is a VERY light, but fairly strong, wood native to to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, northern South America, and tropical west Africa. It grows a seed pod that produces a cotton-like substance that is a mix of lignin and cellulose. I was first introduced to it as a Mystery Wood (discussed below) that seemed like a good wood to use for surf-boards because of the combination of strength and light weight.

my samples:

both sides of a sample plank of ceiba / Ceiba pentandra --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.

end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above

END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above

small plank of ceiba

end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above

HIGH GRIT END GRAIN CLOSEUP of the piece directly above

This plank was my introduction to ceiba. It was sent to me by Gregg Rosner who found it on a beach in Delaware. He was particularly fascinated by it because it is relatively strong and VERY light (18lbs/cuft) and since he makes surfboards, he wanted to know what it was. Some research pretty well convinced me it was Ceiba pentandra but since I had no other samples until recently, I left it on the Mystery Wood page (#166). Having obtained other samples AND having seen the end grain update on them, I am now quite confident that this is ceiba.

Gregg and I both agree that the large swath of discoloration is water stain, not part of the wood figure.

both sides of the plank


edge and face

end grain closeup

web pics:

plank listed as ceiba / Ceiba pentandra


planks listed as white ceiba

micro-photograph showing the cell structure of this species. I do not normally include this kind of pic on this site but I make an exception here because I'm not finding many web pics of the wood and this cell structure nicely confirms what my end grain updates show.

coffin listed as being veneered with kapok