Cochlospermum gillivraei

Distribution Map
Family: Bixaceae
Distribution: North Queensland and the top end of the Northern Territory, usually found in open forests and dry vine scrubs. In coastal areas it is often prominent on rocky ridges and granite headlands
Common Name: Kapok
Derivation of Name: Cochlospermum...from Greek, cochlos... a spiral shell and sperma, a seed, referring to the shape of the seeds
gillivraei...after John McGillivray,naturalist on the "Fly", "Rattlesnake" and "Herald".
Conservation Status: Not considered to be at risk in the wild.

General Description:

Cochlospermum is a genus of about 20 species with four occurring in Australia. The Australian species are plants of the tropics and all tend to lose their leaves during the dry season.

Cochlospermum gillivraei is a small tree, 3 to 12 metres in height, which is deciduous in the dry season. The bright yellow flowers appear before the new leaves. Bark is creamy-grey and smooth.

Cochlospermum gillivraei

Cochlospermum gillivraei
Cochlospermum gillivraei
Photos: Keith Townsend

Leaves are deeply lobed with 5-7egg-shaped or lance-shaped lobes, the lobes dark green and smooth, 5-7 cm x 8-10 cm.

The bright yellow flowers are about 10 cm in diameter have 5 open petals, red stamens and are borne in small terminal panicles. Flowering occurs from August to October when the tree is leafless. Seeds are borne in egg-shaped capsules,about 8 cm long, which split open when ripe to release black seeds embedded in a cotton-like fibre.

In cultivation the plant needs well drained soils and a sunny position.

Kapok may be propagated from seed which appears to need hot water treatment to achieve satisfactory results.

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