Definitions

grown person

Ceiba

[sey-buh or, for 2, sahy-; Sp. they-vah, sey-]

Ceiba (includes Chorisia) is the name of a genus of many species of large trees found in tropical areas, including Mexico, Central and South America, The Bahamas, Belize and the Caribbean, West Africa, and Southeast Asia. Some species can grow to 70 meters tall or more, with a straight, largely branchless trunk that culminates in a huge, spreading canopy, and "buttress roots" that can be taller than a grown person. The best-known, and most widely cultivated, species is Kapok, Ceiba pentandra.

Recent botanical opinion incorporates Chorisia within Ceiba, raising the number of species from 10 to 20 or more, and puts the genus as a whole within the family Malvaceae.

Ceiba species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species including the leaf-miner Bucculatrix ceibae which feeds exclusively on the genus.

In culture, history

The tree figures in the mythologies of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures, in particular that of the Maya civilization, where the concept of the central world tree is often depicted as a ceiba trunk, which connects the planes of the Underworld (Xibalba), the skies and the terrestrial realm.

The Honduran city of La Ceiba was named after a particular ceiba tree that grew down by the old docks. The Puerto Rican town of Ceiba is also named after this tree. Ceiba is also the national tree of both Guatemala and Puerto Rico.

In 1525, Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortés ordered the hanging of Aztec emperor Cuauhtemoc from a Ceiba tree after overtaking his empire.

In 1898, the Spanish army in Cuba surrendered to the United States under a ceiba, which was named the Tree of Peace (Arbol de la Paz), outside of Santiago de Cuba.

Ceiba insignis and Ceiba speciosa are added to some versions of the hallucinogenic drink Ayahuasca.

Ceibo

Ceiba should not be confused with the vernacular name ceibo (Erythrina crista-galli), the national tree of Argentina and Uruguay.

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