While driving through the residential zone in Rincón de Guayabitos on May 13th, I was surprised to see a Shaving Brush Tree tree prominently displaying these large cotton-like puffs. The bright pink flowers had already bloomed and fallen off, and the puffs seemed to have taken their place.
Upon closer inspection, the cotton fiber appears to start out tightly packed before opening into the fluffy cotton-like puffs.
I had never seen a Shaving Brush Tree do this before; and because I couldn’t find any information or photos online, I reached out to a few local plant specialists. Oddly enough, no one else had seen this tree produce these puffs either.
And so my research began…
I remembered that while on the hike from Los Ayala to El Monteón two years ago, our group walked by the Shaving Brush Tree with bright pink plumes shown below. I had never seen one of these trees up close before and was fascinated with its structure. At the time, the tree was completely leafless (the leaves come in after the flowers bloom), allowing passers-by to view the numerous maroon-colored buds and incredible wispy flowers.
I decided to drive back to El Monteón, and I was thrilled to discover that this tree not only had several cotton puffs, but it was also still in bloom, as shown below.
The restaurant owner (who’s name I forgot) told me that the flowers are edible. People with cancer, diabetes and other ailments eat them in hopes that it will cure them.
He pointed out that the new leaves start out red, but they quickly turn green (as shown below).
Since I was so enthusiastic, he walked around the tree and picked up what was left of a seedpod. He explained that after the flowers die, the tree starts to produce large hard pods. The cotton fibers grow inside, and the seedpods break open and fall to the ground. Once the cotton-like puffs open, the seeds are carried away by the natural breezes and produce new trees.
There is an unopened seedpod shown near the top center in the photo above.
Pseudobombax ellipticum, commonly known as “Shaving Brush Tree,” is a species of plant in the Malvaceae family, subfamily Bombacoideae. They are native to southern Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and they typically bloom late winter or early spring. These deciduous trees can reach 18 meters (60 feet) in height.
For anyone interested, you can view this tree in front of the restaurant on the north side of the street near the entrance to El Monteón.panduan android
by Allyson Williams
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