Family • Bombacaceae - Kapok - Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn - WHITE SILK COTTON TREE - Ji bei

Scientific names

Bombax guineensis Schum. & Thonn.
Bombax occidentalis Spreng
Bombax pentandrum Linn.
Eriodendrom anfractuosum DC.
Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn.
Ceiba caribaea (DC.) A. Chev.
Ceiba guineensis Schum. & Thonn.
Ceiba occidentalis Spreng.

Common names

Balios (Tag.)
Basanglai (Ilk.)
Boboi (Bik., Tag.)
Boi-boi (Ak., Bis.)
Buboi (Tag.)
Bulak (Tag., Pamp.)
Bulak-dondol (C. Bis.)
Bulak-kastila (Pamp.)
Bulak-kahoi (Tag.)
Bulak-sina (Tag.)
Daldol (Bis.)
Doldol (Bis.)
Dogdol (C. Bis.)
Dondol (Ilk., C. Bis.)
Gataoua (If.)
Gapas (C. Bis.)
Kayo (Bik., Bis.)
Kasanglai (Pamp.)
Kapak (Sbl.)
Kapas (Sbl.)
Kapas-sanglai (Ilk.)
Kapok (Bis., Sul.)
Ka[as (Pang.)
Kapuk (Sul.)
Kulak (Ilk.)
Sanglai (Ting., Bon.)
Kapok (Tag.)
Cottonwood (Engl.)
True kapok tree (Engl.)
While silk cotton tree (Engl.)
Ji bei (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

ARABIC: Rum (Chad), Shajaret al kutun.
BAMBARA : Bàna, Bànan.
BENGALI: Schwetsimul, Setsimul.
BURMESE: Thinbawle.
CHINESE: Zhua wa mu mia, Ji bei mian, Ji bei mu mian.
DANISH: Kapoktræ, Silkebomuldstræ.
DUTCH: Kapokboom.
FINNISH: Capoc, Kapokkipuu, Seiba.
FRENCH : Arbre coton, Arbre de Dieu, Arbre à kapok, Arbre kapok, Bois coton, Capoquier, Cotonnier de l’Inde, Faux cotonnier, Fromager, Kapokier.
GERMAN: Baumwollbaum, Fuma, Kapokbaum, Wollbaum.
HAUSA: Riimaayee, Riimii.
HINDI: Katan, Safed savara, Safed semul, Safed simal, Safed simul.
ITALIAN: Albero del kapok, Pianta del kapok.
JAPANESE: Kapokku, Kiwata kapokku.
KHMER: Koo, Kor.
LAOTIAN: Kokuiyu, Nguiz baanz.
MALAY: Daun randu, Kabuk abu, Kakabu, Kakantrie, Kankantri (Surinam), Kapok (Indonesia), Kapuk randu (Indonesia), Mengkapas, Pohon kapok (Indonesia), Pohon randu.
MARATHI : Safetasavara.
PORTUGUESE : Arvore-da-lã, Arvore-da-seda, Barriguda, Barriguda de espinho, Mai-das-arvores, Mafumeira, Paina, Paina-lisa, Paineira, Poilão, Polão, Samaúma-cabeluda, Samaúna da várzea, Samaúma-lisa, Sumauma da mata, Sumauma de terra firme, Sumaúma, Sumaúma-branca, Sumaúma-da-várzea, Sumaúma-de-macaco, Sumaúma-rosada, Sumaúma-verdadeira, Sumaumeira.
SANSKRIT: Seta salmali, Shvetasalmali, Shweta shalmali.
SINHALESE: Elavam, Imbul, Kottapulung, Pulung, Pulunimbal.
SPANISH: Arbol capoc, Arbol de seda, Arbol de la seda, Bonga, Capoquero, Ceiba blanca, Ceiba de lana, Ceiba juca, Ceiba yuca, Ceibo, Ceibo jabillo, Hoja de yuca, Huimba, Mosmote, Peem, Pochota, Pochote, Toborochi, Yaxché, Yuca.
SWAHILI: Mbuyu, Msufi.
TAMIL: Ilavu, Ilavum, Illavam panju, Pancu, Panji, Panjirnaram, Panjumaram, Ulagamaram.
TELUGU: Tella buruga.
THAI: Ngao, Ngio noi, Ngio sai, Ngio soi, Nun.
URDU: Sambal.
YORUBA: Araba (Nigeria), Egun, Ogungun.


Buboi is an erect, deciduous tree, growing to a height of 15 meters or less. Trunk is cylindric, forming buttresses, usually bearing scattered, large spines. Branches are in distant whorls, spreading horizontally. Leaves are palmately compound, with 5 to 9 leaflets, lanceolate, 6 to 15 centimeters long, pointed at both ends. Flowers are numerous large, fragrant, and creamy white, about 3 centimeters long. Fruits are capsules, hard, pendulous, leathery, oblong, about 15 centimeters long, 5 centimeters thick, containing numerous black seeds embedded in fine, silky hairs.


– Planted in settled areas throughout the Philippines.
– Native to tropical America.
– Now pantropic.

Parts utilized
Bark, roots, leaves.

– Seeds contain oil, 24.2%; ash, 5.22%; crude fiber, 23.9 %; albuminoids,, 18.9%; carbohydrates and others, 15.9%.
– The oil is a mixture of fatty acid, 70% liquid, 30% solid palmitic acid.
– Kapok oil has a composition similar to American cotton-seed oil.
– Study yielded bioactive compounds: phenolics, alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, saponins, phytate, trypsin inhibitors, and hemagglutinin inhibitors.
– Proximate analysis of leaves yielded a high percentage of moisture (47.37%), protein (16.81%), carbohydrate (25.23%), low percentage of fiber (4.47%), fats (2.23%) and ash (2.14%). Phytochemical analysis yielded alkaloids, terpenoids, flavonoids, polyphenol, and saponin, and the presence of vitamins A, C, and E.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Excellent oil absorbent kapok [ Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn.] fiber: fiber structure, chemical characteristics, and application 

(2) Two New Isoflavones from Ceiba pentandra and Their Effect on Cyclooxygenase-Catalyzed Prostaglandin Biosynthesis / Ylva Noreen, Hesham El-Seedi, Premila Perera, and Lars Bohlin* / J. Nat. Prod. 1998, 61, 8-12

(3) Hypoglycaemic effect of methylene chloride/methanol root extract of Ceiba pentandra in normal and diabetic rats / Indian Journal of Pharmacology / 2006 | Volume : 38 | Issue : 3 | Page : 194-197

(4) ANTIDIABETIC EFFECT OF CEIBA PENTANDRA EXTRACT ON STREPTOZO-TOCIN-INDUCED NON-INSULIN-DEPENDENT DIABETIC (NIDDM) RATS / Paul Desire D Dzeufiet et al / African Journal of Traditional, Complimentary and Alternative Medicines,, Vol.4, No. 1, 2007, pg. 47-54 /

(5) Protective effect of stem bark of Ceiba pentandra linn. against paracetamol-induced hepatotoxicity in rats /
Nirmal K. Bairwa, Neeraj K. Sethiya, and S. H. Mishra / Pharmacognosy Res. 2010 Jan-Feb; 2(1): 26–30.
doi: 10.4103/0974-8490.60584

(6) Sorting Ceiba names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 – 2000 The University of Melbourne.

(7) PHYTOCHEMICAL AND ANTIDIARRHOEAL STUDIES OF THE STEM BARK OF CEIBA PENTANDRA (BOMBACACEAE) / *Sule, M. I., Njinga, N. S, . Musa, A. M., Magaji, M. G., Abdullahi, A. / Nigerian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Vol. 8, No. 1, March, 2009, ISSN: 0189-823X All Rights Reserved

(8) Biodiesel Production from Kapok Seed Oil (Ceiba Pentandra) Through the Transesterification Process by Using Cao as Catalyst / Endah Mutiara Marhaeni Putri α, M. Rachimoellah σ, Nidya Santoso ρ & Ferdy Pradana / Global Journal of Researches in Engineering Chemical Engineering Volume 12 Issue 2 Version 1.0 Year 2012

(9) Evaluation of Phytochemicals and Antioxidant Activities of Ceiba pentandra (Kapok) Seed Oil / Ch. Ravi Kiran*, Y. Madhavi and T. Raghava Rao / J Bioanal Biomed 2012, 4:4 / http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/1948-593X.1000065

(10) HYPOGLYCAEMIC AND ANTIDIABETIC EFFECT OF ROOT EXTRACTS OF CEIBA PENTANDRA IN NORMAL AND DIABETIC RATS / Paul Désiré Dzeufiet Djomeni *; Léonard Tédong; Emmanuel Acha Asongalem; Théophile Dimo; Selestin Dongmo Sokeng; Pierre Kamtchouing / Afr. J. Trad. CAM (2006) 3 (1): 129 – 136

(11) Efficacy of Di-n-octyl Phthalate Anti Venom Isolated from Ceiba pentandra Leaves Extract in Neutralization of Echis ocellatus Venom / S. Ibrahim, J.A. Nok, M.S. Abubakar and S. Sarkiyayi / Research Journal of Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology 4(15): 2382-2387, 2012

(12) Antiulcer activity of methanolic extract of Ceiba pentandra (Linn.) GAERTN. on rats / Gandhare, Bhushan; Kavimani, S.; Rajkapoor, B. / Journal of Pharmacy Research; Nov 2011, Vol. 4 Issue 11, p4132

(13) Comparative evaluation of Ceiba pentandra ethanolic leaf extract, stem bark extract and the combination thereof for in vitro bacterial growth inhibition / Asare, Peter and Oseni, Lateef Adebayo / Journal of Natural Sciences Research www.iiste.org ISSN 2224-3186 (Paper) ISSN 2225-0921, Vol.2, No.5, 2012

(14) Investigation of Hypoglycemic Effect of Ceiba Pentandra Root Bark Extract in Normal and Alloxan Induced Diabetic Albino Rats / Saif-ur-Rehman, Saghir A. Jafri, Ishtiaq Ahmed, Abdul Shakoor, Hafiz M.N. Iqbal, Bilal Munir Ahmad, Imran Tipu / IJAVMS. 2010; 4(3): 88-95

(15) Assessment of Ceiba pentandra on Calcium Oxalate Urolithiasis in Rats / Ankur Choubey, Aadarsh Choubey, Promil Jain, Deepa Iyer, U K Patil / Der Pharma Chemica: Online Journal for Medical, Pharmaceutical, and Computational Chemistry.

– Roots are diuretic, aphrodisiac, antipyretic, tonic.
– Bark is acrid, bitter, thermogenic, diuretic, emetic, febrifuge, purgative and tonic.
– Unripe fruit considered demulcent and astringent.
– Young leaf extremely high in fiber content.

Edibility / Nutrition
– In Malaya, Java and Celebes, young leaves eaten as vegetable.
– Sprouts and young pods are also edible.
– In Nigeria, leaves are cooked into a slurry sauce, like okra.
– In West Africa, young leaves cooked and eaten as soup herb.
– Young leaves are very good sources of calcium and iron.
Sprouts and young pods are also edible.
– Bark is reported to be vomitive and aphrodisiac.
– Decoction of bark used for catarrh.
– Tender fruit used as emollient.
– Decoction of bark regarded as a specific in febrile catarrh.
– Gum is astringent; used for bowel complaints. In children, gum with milk, given as cooling laxative. Also used for urine incontinence in children.
– Gum used as styptic, given in diarrhea, dysentery, and menorrhagia.
– In Liberia, Infusion of bark used as mouthwash.
– Infusion of leaves, onions, and a little tumeric, used for coughs.
– Young roots, shade-dried and powdered, is a chief ingredient in aphrodisiac medicines.
– Tap-root of young plant used for gonorrhea and dysentery.
– Bark in diuretic; in sufficient quantities, produces vomiting.
– In Cambodia, bark used for fevers and diarrhea. Also, as a cure for inebriation, used to bring about perspiration and vomiting.
– Malays used the bark for asthma and colds in children.
– In India, roots used for gonorrhea, dysuria, fevers. Decoction of bark used for chronic dysentery, diarrhea, ascites, and anasarca. Tender leaves also used for gonorrhea.
– In Java, bark mixed with areca nuts, nutmegs, and sugar candy, used as diuretic and for treatment of bladder stones. Infusion of leaves used for cough, hoarseness, intestinal catarrh, and urethritis. Leaves also used for cleaning hair.
– In the Cameroons, bark, which has tannin, is pounded and macerated in cold water and applied to swollen fingers.
– In French Guiana, decoction of flowers used for constipation.
– In Mexico, bark decoction taken internally as emetic, diuretic and antispasmodic.
– Bark used for liver and spleen conditions, abdominal complaints, flatulence, constipation.
– Leaves used as emollient. Decoction of flowers is laxative.
– In Nigerian folk medicine, used for treatment of diabetes and infections. Leaves used as alterative and laxative, and as infusion for colic in man and in livestock. Seed oil used in rheumatism. Also, leaves used as curative dressings on sores and to maturate tumors.
– In India and Malaya, used for bowel complaints.
– In the Ivory Coast, mucilage obtained by boiling used to remove foreign bodies from the eye. Also, bark sap given to sterile women to promote conception.
– In West Africa, used for diarrhea and gonorrhea.
– Fibers: Pod fibers are used in the stuffing of pillows, cushions, mattresses and the manufacture and life-preservers.
– Oil: Kapok oil, extracted from the seeds, used in the manufacture of soap; also, a substitute for cotton-seed oil.
– Wood: Tree is used for fencing and telephone poles.
– Fresh cake valuable as stock feed.
– Ashes of the fruit used by dyers in Malaysia.
– Study showed the C. pentandra fiber may be useful in recovering oil spilled in seawater.

Study Findings
• Hypoglycemic / Bark: A study of aqueous bark extract of Ceiba pentandra in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats caused a statistically significant reduction of plasma glucose supporting the hypoglycemic effects of C pentandra.
• A New Isoflavone Glycoside from Ceiba pentandra (L.): A bark extract study of C. pentandra isolated a new isoflavone with other known isoflavones, vavain and vavain glucoside.
• Two New Isoflavones / COX-Catalyzed Prostaglandin Biosynthesis: Study of bark yielded two new Isoflavones from Ceiba pentandra: the new isoflavone glucoside vavain 3′-O-ß-D-glucoside and its aglycon, vavain, together with the known flavan-3-ol, (+)-catechin. Compounds 1 and 2 exhibited inhibitory effects on cyclooxygenase-1-catalyzed prostaglandin biosynthesis.
• Toxicological Studies: Toxicological studies reveal that C pentandra has a very low toxicity profile in all tested animals and is relatively safe for herbal oral medication.
• Anti-Fungal: Alcohol and water extracts of C citratus, C pentandra and L bengwelensis were investigated for antifungal activities. Phytochemical studies yielded saponins, tannins, fats and oils, alkaloids and phenol. All the extracts inhibited the growth of test organisms: E flocosum, M canis, T rubrum and Candida albicans. The activity was attributed to the presence of saponins and phenols.
• Adsorbent: Study investigated the ability of low-cost activated carbon from C pentandra hulls, an agricultural waste material, for the removal of zinc and lead from aqueous solutions.
• Nutritional / Medicinal Potential: Study showed C. pentandra contain nutrients and mineral elements useful in nutrition, while bioactive compounds explained the medicinal action of plant leaves and provide scientific basis for its folkloric use.
• Hepatoprotective: Study showed the ethyl acetate fraction of a methanolic extract of C. pentandra possesses hepatoprotective potential against paracetamol-induced hepatotoxicity in rats.
• Antihyperglycemic / Antilipidperoxidative: Study of an ethanolic bark extract of CP showed potent antihyperglycemic and antilipidperoxidative potential in STZ-induced diabetic rats.
• Anti-Inflammatory: Study of petroleum ether and ethanolic extract of seeds showed anti-inflammatory effects when assessed by carrageenan-induced rat paw edema.
• Anti-Diarrheal: Study evaluated a methanolic extract of stem bark of Ceiba pentandra for antidiarrheal activity. Extract showed significant protection against castor oil-induced diarrhea but no significant delay in intestinal transit time.
• Biodiesel from Kapok Seed Oil: Study showed Kapok seed oil can be used as raw material for the production of biodiesel. CaO catalyst can be regenerated up to 3 times with the smallest yield of 64.3%.
• Antioxidant / Seed Oil: Ceiba pentandra seed oil exhibited remarkable phytochemical and antioxidant properties in DPPH, FRAP, reducing power assay, and hydroxyl radical scavenging activity. Phytochemical screening yielded phenols, flavonoids, alkaloids, and tannins.
• Hypoglycemic / Antidiabetic: Study of a methylene chloride/methanol root extract of Ceiba pentandra in normal and diabetic rats showed hypoglycemic effects. The extract was capable of ameliorating at lower doses, hyperglycemia in STZ-induced diabetic rats.
• Anti-Venom / Di-n-octyl Phthalate / Leaves: Study evaluated the efficacy of Di-n-octyl phthalate isolated from the leaves of Ceiba pentandra for its anti Echis ocellatus venom properties. The isolate was biologically active in dose-dependently inhibiting PLA2 activity. Results suggest the isolated compound has a potential for a highly effective therapeutic agent for reducing snake envenomation.
• Antiulcer / Di-n-octyl Phthalate / Leaves: Study evaluated the effect of Ceiba pentandra on ethanol-induced and pylorus-induced ulcers in rats. Results showed a dose-dependent antiulcerogenic effect with significant reduction of the index of gastric lesion in both ulcer induced models.
• Antibacterial / Leaves and Stem Bark Extracts: Study evaluated the antibacterial activities of an ethanol extract of leaf, stem bark, and their combination in vitro against selected human pathogens: K pneumonia, P aeruginosa, S aureus, and E coli. The extracts and their combination showed significant antibacterial activity, without synergistic or additive effects with the combined extract.
• Hypoglycemic / Root Bark: Study showed a root bark extract of Ceiba pentandra has hypoglycemic effect in normal and alloxan-induced diabetic rats.
• Oily Water Filtration / Kapok Fibers: A deep-bed kapok filtration column showed to be successful in achieving oily water separation. The oil and water front movements were influenced by the affinity of liquid to kapok fibers. Results show excellent physiochemical property of Malaysian kapok for oil removal from water.
• Anti-Urolithiasis: Study evaluated aqueous and alcohol extracts of bark of C. pentandra on calcium oxalate urolithiasis in male albino Wistar rats. The extracts significantly reduced elevated urinary oxalate showing a regulatory action on endogenous oxalate synthesis. Results suggest a potential curative agent for urolithiasis.
• Nutritional Potential / Leaves: Proximate analysis of leaves yielded a high percentage of moisture (47.37%), protein (16.81%), carbohydrate (25.23%), low percentage of fiber (4.47%), fats (2.23%) and ash (2.14%). Phytochemical analysis yielded alkaloids, terpenoids, flavonoids, polyphenol, and saponin, and the presence of vitamins A, C, and E. Results found C. pentandra leaves as rich in certain nutrients and phytochemicals supporting its ethno-medical usages.

Cultivated for ornamental use.