Pseudobombax ellipticum, with the Common names include "shaving brush tree" and amapolla tree, is a species of plant in the Bombacoideae subfamily of the Malvaceae family. Pseudobombax ellipticum commonly known as Shaving Brush Tree one of the beautiful trees from tropical area of southern Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Generally it grows 20-40 ft (6 – 12 m). Sometimes it can grow up to 60 ft (18m). Leaves are first bright red turning a fine green as they mature. It blooms flowers in Spring. The Flowers are silky and two types colors. Some trees bloom red flowers and some white flowers. They are looking so beautiful when they are in full bloom. The wood is interesting as well, showing stripping of greens, yellows, browns and white. For this reason the people of Central America plant the tree in their garden and the attractive flowers are used to decorate their homes. The tree is grown as an ornamental in Florida and Hawaii. The Shaving brush tree is especially cute when it's young - having a bulb like swollen stem that look like a green rock melon. The trees also used as firewood and wood for carving handicrafts. The tree may be used as living fence in rural areas.
Description: Pseudobombax ellipticum, best known as Bombax ellipticum, is a fabulously attractive fast-growing deciduous tree with a smooth green caudiciform trunk that can reach 18(-20) m in height. Coveted for it's unique brush-like flowers in late winter, the leaves are an attraction as well. This is a fine shade tree as well as a show stopper bloomer suitable for bonsai treatment as well.
Trunk: Smooth, green marbled with gray, semi-succulent up to 1.3 m in diameter often bulging and specialized for water storage. Its branches are close to the base and the new twigs are bright green.
Leaves: Long-stalked, alternate, palmately compound and articulated, with 3-6 (mostly 5) oval leaflets 10-22 cm long. New leaves are a quite attractive deep maroon colour and turn a fine green as they get older.
Flowers: Single or aggregate inflorescences (short cymes), 15-20 cm across, clustered at ends of branches before leaves; petals long and liner, pubescent on the outside, white to purple that separate and curl back to frame a cluster with hundreds of bright silky pink purple stamens topped with yellow pollen. The stamens are usually shorter than the petals, but up to up to 15 cm long, forming a tube in 2 concentric rings with only the bases fused (like a comb). The stamens are loosely clustered in 5 groups in each ring. There is also a white flowered form (forma alba).
Blooming season: Winter to early spring. (December-March). The flowers open at night and fall off some time in the day and only last for the one day.
Fruit: Elongated, dehiscent capsules 15-25 cm long, by 2.5-3.5 cm in diameter, yellow-brown, glabrous, containing numerous seeds. The fruit contain a fluffy fiber around the seeds and rippens in January-February in his native regions. The fruits are collected manually from the tree before opening and dried to extract the seeds.
Seeds: The seeds are wind dispersed. The small seeds are manually separated from the fibers and stored under cool and dry conditions.
Propagation: Pseudobombax ellipticum is propagated by seeds and cuttings. Seeds require sunny locations for germination. The cuttings, 40 to 100 cm in length and 2 to 5 cm in diameter, are easily rooted when planted in bags of sand and watered daily or when planted directly in the field.
A decoction of the bark is a domestic remedy for coughs and catarrh.
A decoction of the bark and root is used for treating toothaches and hardening of the gums.
Other Uses: The cotton-like fibre within the pods is utilized like kapok, for stuffing cushions and pillows.