Pseudobombax ellipticum

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Pseudobombax ellipticum is a caudex-forming tree that makes a spectacular centerpiece to any tropical themed succulent garden.

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Pseudobombax ellipticum is native to southern Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras where it can typically be found growing in dry and rocky locations.

 

Pseudobombax ellipticum

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A highly ornamental tree reaching 40’ in its native habitat, Pseudobombax ellipticum is usually much smaller in California gardens. Leaves are large, palmate and tropical in appearance. It is fairly easy to grow, but it needs to be protected from cold weather and frosts. Flowers emerge from 6” dark buds on leafless stems. They last only a day. Mature trees make excellent shade trees in warmer climates.

This tree grows as a large caudex-forming bonsai when pruned accordingly. The caudex is very interesting with a tortoise shell like pattern of gray and bright green bark. Note that pot-grown plants are very sensitive to hot summer sun and should be protected.

This plant was used by the Mayans and is depicted in their art. Its seed can be toasted and eaten while the fruit fibers (kapok) were used for batting and insulation. Pseudobombax ellipticum is planted as a living fence in Central America.

Pseudobombax ellipticum can also be grown in pots and trained as a fascinating Bonsai subject. This tree is interesting year round. Winter shows off its smooth green bark and picturesque structure. In spring it has striking neon-pink to white flowers that burst from cigar-like buds. Summer brings foliage which opens red that turns bright apple green as it matures.

Propagate this tree from woody stem cuttings or hardwood cuttings and it can also be grown from seed.

Horticultural Data

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Names and Synonyms: Bombax ellipticum, Pseudobombax fastuosum, Pachira fastuosa, Pseudobombax mexicanum
Common Names: Shaving Brush Tree, Amapolla Tree
Family: Bombacaceae
Origin: Pseudobombax ellipticum is native to southern Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras where it can typically be found growing in dry and rocky locations.
Height: 15-20′
Width: 10-15′
Cold Tolerance: 25 to 30°F; -3.9 to -1.1°C
Heat Tolerance: High heat tolerance
Light Requirement: Light shade to full sun.
Water needs: Some drought tolerance but prefers irrigation in hot summer months for best growth and flowering. Very little water is needed in winter when the tree is dormant.
Maintenance: Prune as desired. It is best pruned right after flowering before the leaves emerge.
Uses: This caudex-forming tree makes a spectacular centerpiece to any tropical themed succulent garden. Pseudobombax ellipticum can also be grown in pots and trained as a fascinating Bonsai subject. This tree is interesting year round, with smooth green bark and a picturesque structure when deciduous in winter, in spring striking neon-pink to white flowers burst from cigar-like buds, and in summer foliage opens red and eventually turning bright apple green.
Propagation: This tree can be propagated from woody stem cuttings or hardwood cuttings. It can also be grown from seed.
Problems: None.
Research Links:

http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/48953/
http://www.smgrowers.com/products/plants/plantdisplay.asp?plant_id=1641
http://www.llifle.com/Encyclopedia/TREES/Family/Bombacaceae/17831/Pseudobombax_ellipticum
http://www.bihrmann.com/caudiciforms/subs/pse-ell-sub.asp

Shipping & Availability

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There is a minimum purchase of any 4 plants for online orders. All plants shipped bare root. Other sizes may be available for pick up from our growing grounds in Fallbrook, CA. For more information, give us a call at 760-990-4762.
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