The natural habitat of the silk floss tree is the north-east of Argentina, east of Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and southern Brazil. It is resistant to drought and moderate cold. It grows fast in spurts when water is abundant, and sometimes reaches more than 25 metres (82 ft) in height. Its trunk is bottle-shaped, generally bulging in its lower third, measuring up to 2 metres (7 ft) in girth. The trunk is also studded with thick, sharp conical prickles which deter wild animals from climbing the trees. In younger trees, the trunk is green due to its high chlorophyll content, which makes it capable of performing photosynthesiswhen leaves are absent; with age it turns to gray.

Ceiba speciosa

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