Fall is prime time for Ceiba speciosa (formerly known as Chorisia speciosa), as it covers itself with thousands of pink blooms just as it starts to drop its palmate leaves for the winter.This is a fast-growing tree with a distinctive swollen trunk covered in sharp spines. The trunk remains green for many years and allows the tree to photosynthesize even when dormant.
The trunk is fascinating but the flowers are the reason to grow this tree. Every fall you'll be rewarded with a stunning display when not many other trees are in bloom. The pattern of color and spotting varies from tree to tree. Individual flowers are 4-5 inches across and fallen blooms can be brought inside and floated in a bowl of water.
Ceiba speciosa is also known as Floss Silk Tree because in spring the seed pods open to release masses of fluffy, white silk that carries seeds on the wind. The silk has been used commercially for stuffing in place of feathers.
It is native to South America and is recommended for USDA Zones 9-ll. That means it is hardy to about 20°F. Hummingbirds and Tiger Swallowtail butterflies are attracted to the flowers and will make several visits a day to the blooms.