Bombax ceiba, like other trees of the genus Bombax, is commonly known as cotton tree or tree cotton. This tropical tree has a straight tall trunk and its leaves are deciduous in winter. Red flowers with 5 petals appear in the spring before the new foliage. It produces a capsule which, when ripe, contains white fibres like cotton. Its trunk bears spikes to deter attacks by animals. Although its stout trunk suggests that it is useful for timber, its wood is too soft to be very useful.
The tree is widely planted in Malay, Indonesia, south China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. According to Chinese historical record, the king of Nam Yuet, Chiu To, gave a tree to the Emperor of Han dynasty in 2nd Century BC.
In Guangdong, the tree is known as muk min (木棉, lit. wood cotton) or hung min (紅棉, lit. red cotton). It is also known as Ying Hung Shue (英雄樹, lit. hero tree), for its straight and tall trunk.
The Sanskrit name for this tree is Salmali. In the Rigveda, the chariot is made of Salmali (RV 10.85.20) and other woods.
Folk knowledge in Hong Kong states that soon after the tree blooms, the weather will get hotter.
this tree is commonly known as semal in india.it widely planted in parks and on roadsides there because of its beautiful red flowers which bloom in march april. this tree is quite common in new delhi although it doesnt reach its full size of 60m there because of the semi arid climate. the cotton fibres of this tree can be seen floating in the wind around the time of early may.
this tree shows two marked growth sprints in india- in spring and during the monsoon months.