Isbel Diaz Torres

Inside that “cotton” is the tiny seed.

I sowed Ceiba tree seeds for the first time, and now they’ve sprouted.  The procedure is very simple, so I wanted to share it with you, the readers.

This summer presented a special opportunity in Cuba for those who want to have their own Ceiba plant.  I don’t know if you’re aware that this tree blossoms only every four years, and that 2010 was one of those chances. Therefore, those who aren’t able to get ahold of its seeds this season will have to wait until 2014.

The seeds of the ceiba are very conspicuous, because each one of the thousands of seeds produced by the tree generates very fine and clear “hairs” that form a very light cotton like ball.  This is the mechanism developed by that species to disseminate its seeds great distances by benefiting from the force of the wind.

It looked like it had snowed.

This is why when a Ceiba has blossomed and produced fruits and seeds, it can be detected from far away.  When the time comes, it looks as if it had snowed all around because the “cotton” of the seeds covers everything.  Inside that “wool” are seeds that are tiny, round, dark brown and hard.

My recommendation is to collect as many seeds as possible. Around the Almendares Bridge in Havana I collected some 1,400 seeds from a single ceiba this June.  This didn’t take me more than 30 minutes.  The extra ones can be given to people who want to plant them.

Stripped of the cotton, they should be placed in a container of water and left there for three days. Although some people suggested to me changing the water up to two times a day, my experience was that the least you move the recipient, placed in a dark spot, the better is the chance for later germination.

I felt like a blissful father when I saw my little ceibas reaching toward the sky.

After three days you should prepare several plastic bags with soil and place one of two seeds in each bag.

For a good result it’s advisable not to press the seed into the soil, but only to make a hole in the soil just over an inch deep with your finger, drop the seeds in and cover them with earth.

Place the seeds in a sunny place, water them daily and the seedling should appear in less than three days – at least this is what happened with my sprouts.

I felt like a blissful father when I saw my little ceibas reaching toward the sky.


Isbel Diaz

Isbel Diaz Torres: Pinar del Rio and Havana are my cities. I was born in one on March 1, 1976, and I’ve always lived in the other. I am a biologist and poet, though at times I’ve also been a musician, translator, teacher, computer geek, designer, photographer and editor. I’m very non-conformist and a defender of differences – perhaps due to always having been an ever-repressed “model child.” Nothing enthralls me more than the unknown, nature and art; these serve as my sources of mystery and development. A surprising activism has been born in me over the recent period. Though I’m not very sure how to channel it, I feel that it’s a worthy and legitimate energy. Let’s hope I have the discernment to manage it.

11 thoughts on “If You Want to Plant a Ceiba Tree

  • I can post you hundreds of seeds. Not seedlings. From west africa

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