Trick or Tree-t

White Silk Cotton tree

by Vishnupriya Hathwar

Silk cotton trees are native to the Indian subcontinent. Their names are derived from the silky strands of cotton obtained from the seed pods aka the fruit. The silk cotton family has a number of members which are all unique and frankly, quite interesting to observe. The silk cotton family consists of i) Red Silk Cotton ii) White silk cotton and iii) yellow silk cotton. Let us talk about the white silk cotton here.

The white silk cotton is a very interesting tree. The tree grows tall and huge very fast, but the bark colour remains green in colour; interesting isn’t it? Did you know that all the main/ primary branches of the silk cotton are exactly 90O to the main trunk; while the smaller branches are 90O to the main branches? There is such a lovely mathematical pattern to the growth of this tree!!

Another interesting fact about this tree is that all the leaves are arranged in such a way that it resembles the palm of one’s hand – hence the arrangement is called “Palmate”. These trees have medium sized white flowers. But the fascinating part comes after the flowers turn into fruits! The seed pods aka dried fruits resemble an unripe large banana. The seeds of the silk cotton are dispersed by wind. Thus, each seed is attached to thin fibres of “cotton”, much like a paratrooper with his parachute open. Once the pod breaks open, the seeds are seen flying in all directions with loads of cotton with it.

These cotton fibres are not like the typical cotton fibres we get from the original cotton plant. These fibres are silky smooth and bunched, thus, giving it the name “Silk Cotton”. Since ancient times these fibres are used to make mattresses, thick winter bed sheets and in pillow stuffing. Apart from this the tree is a good shade provider, food provider as well as knowledge provider for people who see things in different perspectives.

Do check out this tree at the Puttenahalli Lake. It stands tall and wide at the Nataraja layout side in a dedicated corner. What else can you observe about this tree? Do let us know at