The planting of kapok tree has been a neglected trade in our country. Its most important use is
the cotton from its fruit, but it has a lot of other uses besides.
When the foam was not yet in use, kapok used to provide a means of living for some rural
folks. Before World War II, although this was not a major industry, the Philippines used to be
second to Java in exploring kapok. Now, there are very few kapok trees and still fewer who
know its value.
1. Cotton from the kapok is the best material for pillows, mattresses, and upholstered seats
and similar uses because of its resiliency, i.e.; its ability to bounce back or elasticity when
compresses. And even after many years of use, mere exposure to air and sun makes it good
again, unlike foam, which gets flattened with use. This is because the cells of kapok naturally
contain air, unlike the artificial air of foam. Kapok cells are not water permeable, and it can
carry 35 times own weight; thus, it floats on water.
2. Because of its lightness, it is used as stuffing material inside lifesavers and other life saving
3. The sticky substance from its bark is cure for dysentery, hemorrhage and diabetes; its
young fruit can be used as emollient or softener.
4. Oil from the seeds of the kapok can be used for cooking and for soap making.
5. The fibers of the kapok cotton can be spun into cloth, either alone or with shrub cotton fiber.
Because its fibers are glossy and smooth, this is in making felt plushes, lace and similar uses.
The kapok tree grows almost in any kind of soil, even in marginal soil (therefore it does not
deprive other plants of space) although it is most fruitful in loamy or alluvial soil.
Kapok can be propagated by seeds, budding, grating or stem cutting.
Kapok bears fruit within three to four years, but is most fruitful in its 13th to 14th year. Its life
span is about 70 years.
From: PCARRD Monitor