Bombax, Ceiba & Duabanga identification Nusa Penida

Below article is an attempt at tree identification for Nusa Penida (Bali - Indonesia), following, amongst others, a publication by Ni Komang Ayu Astiti & Dariusman Abdillah (2005), entitled: 'Pemanfaatan Sumber Daya Alam untuk Mendukung Kegiatan Religi dari Manusia Prasejarah di Pulau Nusa Penida'. Sources include: Barwick, 2004; Heyne, 1950, The Plant List, please refer to data below.

Bombax classification: The Plant List & Barwick (2004)

Family Malvaceae
Genus Bombax
Species Bombax albidum Gagnep. (1909)
  Bombax anceps Pierre (1888)
  Bombax blancoanum A.Robyns (1963)
  Bombax buonopozense P.Beauv. (1816) - subsp. reflexum (Sprague) A.Robyns (1963)
  Bombax ceiba L. (1753)
  Bombax costatum Pellegr. & Vuillet (1914)
  Bombax insigne Wall. (1830)

Source: The Plant List

Bombax ceiba L./ Bombax malabaricum

(Barwick, 2004:55) Red cotton silk; 20 spp.; Malvaceae (formerly Bombacaceae)


Image 1: Bombax ceiba; with sparse, rigid, upthrusting limbs around a sturdy, buttressed trunk; Image 4: Bombax ceiba: flowers are short-lived but secrete a reservoir of sweet, intoxicating nectar, irresistible to birds, squirrels and bees, which collectively, act as pollinators.

bombaxceiba-barwick-55(p.55) Origin: Trop. Asia to Australia; Height: up to 25 m (82 ft); Type: deciduous, large flowering tree; Status: not threatened; Habitat: humid, lowland deciduous forests; Growth: moderate; Flowering: winter to early spring; Dry Tolerance: moderate to high; Salinity tolerance: low; Light: full sun; Soil: rich, deep, well-drained; Nutrition: balanced fertilizer annually; Hazards: conical spines on trunk; Problems: none; Environment: insect nectar; Propagation: seeds; semi-ripe cuttings; Leaves: digitate; bright green; leaflets to 25 cm (10 in.), long-petioled; Flowers: showy; deep to light red (rarely orange or yellow); large, blunt-tipped; heavy, waxy petals; Fruit: a capsule, to 15 cm (6 in.); woody, oblong ovoid, 5 celled; velvety dark brown; Use: large flowering tree; public open space; specimen; xerophytic; Zone: 10-12

Bombax Ceiba is an imposing tree: tall, deciduous, with rigidly upthrusting limbs arranged in whorls around a mast-like trunk that is usually undivided and generally supported by large buttresses. The grey bark is covered with sharp, conical spines when young but becomes increasingly smooth with age. Digitate leaves are long- petioled and tend to be leathery. In early spring, when the tree is leafless, swollen buds appear clustered towards the branch ends. The flowers develop and swell, enclosed in heavy, silky hairy, cup-shaped calyxes. These burst open with dramatic effect to release their magnificent contents. The legendary blooms have 5 heavily waxy, recurved, deep or light red petals centred with a 2-layered coronet of pink filaments tipped with purple. The flowers are short-lived but secrete a reservoir of sweet, intoxicating nectar that is irresistible to the birds, squirrels and bees that act as its pollinators. As the blooms are pollinated, they abort to bring brilliant colour to the ground below. In Burma and other Asian regions, they are harvested because they are much relished as a curry vegetable. The large, oblong, velvety brown fruit contain many seeds, which, like kapok, are attached to fine, silky hairs that are often used as a filling for cushions and pillows. The greyish, dark-streaked wood is soft and pithy, and large trunks are often hollowed out to make native canoes. A transparent gum exudes from the bark and the sapling roots and is used in traditional medicine.


Image 2: Bombax buonopozense; chess set carved from the gigantic spines of the trunk. See a single spine set in the centre of the board; Image 3: Bombax buonopozense; flowers are orange, pink or red. The trunk and young limbs are covered with enormous, conical spines.

Bombax buonopozense; (P. Beauv.): W and C Africa, to 40 m (130 ft). Gold Coast Bombax is a much bigger tree. The trunk and young limbs are covered with enormous, conical spines. The flowers are bright orange, pink or red. (10-12)

Ceiba Classification: The Plant List

Family Malvaceae
Genus Ceiba
Species Ceiba acuminata (S. Watson) Rose (1905)
  Ceiba aesculifolia (Kunth) Britten & Baker, 1896; various subsp.: C.a. aesculifolia, C.a. parvifolia
  Ceiba allenii Woodson (1942)
  Ceiba boliviana Britten & Baker f. (1896)
  Ceiba chodatii (Hassl.) Ravenna (1998)
  Ceiba crispiflora (Kunth) Ravenna (1998)
  Ceiba erianthos (Cav.) K.Schum. (1886)
  Ceiba glaziovii (Kuntze) K. Schum., 1900
  Ceiba insignis (Kunth) P. E. Gibbs & Semir, 1988
  Ceiba jasminodora (A.St.Hil.) K.Schum. (1886)
  Ceiba lupuna P.E.Gibbs & Semir (2003)
  Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn. (1791) = Kapok
  Ceiba pubiflora (A.St.-Hil.) K.Schum. (1886)
  Ceiba (Chorisia) speciosa (1998); synonym: Ceiba rosea (Seem.) K. Schum., 1886
  Ceiba salmonea (Ulbr.) Bakh. (1924)
  Ceiba samauma (Mart. & Zucc.) K.Schum. (1886)
  Ceiba schottii Britten & Baker f. (1896)
  Ceiba speciosa (A.St.-Hil.) Ravenna (1998)
  Ceiba trichistandra Bakh., 1924 (Eriodendron trischistandrum, A.Gray); Karel Heyne (1950:1054) mentioned 'it is probably endemic to Peru, has been planted in Java 'in cultuur', possibly will be of value to dry areas; in West Java growth of this tree is bad.'
  Ceiba ventricosa (Nees & Mart.) Ravenna (1998)

Source: Barwick (2004) &

Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn.

(Barwick, 20014; 104) Kapok; 11+ - spp.; Synonyms: Bombax pentandrum; Eriodendron anfractuosum; Malvaceae (Formerly bombacaceae)


Image 1: Ceiba pentandra; a volunteer sapling in a car park in Grand Cayman, West Indies, demonstrates its remarkable structure; Image 2: Ceiba pentandra; with clusters of waxy yellow nocturnal flowers with milky odour; Image 3: Ceinba pentandra; after pollination, flowers are replaced by large, boat-shaped, felty pods stuffed with silky hairs.

ceibapentandra-barwick-104Origin: South America; South Africa; Height: up to 70 m (230 ft); Type: deciduous, large, pachycaul foliage tree; Status: not threatened; Habitat: coastal plains; Growth: fast; Flowering: late winter; Dry tolerance: high; Salinity tolerance: high; Light: full sun; Soil: reasonably fertile, deep; Nutrition: not normally necessary; Hazards: spiny trunk; Problems: messy seeds; Environment: bee and bat nectar; Propagation: seeds; large cuttings; Leaves: palmate; bright green; with 5-8 leaflets, to 20 x 4 cm (8 x 1.5 in.), held on slender, long petioles; Flowers: showy; pink, whitish or yellow; waxy, nectar rich; nocturnal, with milky odour; Fruit: a capsule, to 20 cm (8 in.); woody, velvety; dehiscent, packed with many seeds attached to long, silky hairs; Use: seaside; public open space; xerophytic; Zone: 10-12


Image 4: Ceiba pentandra; a fairly young specimen growing in the brackish, coral sand of the Cayman Islands in the West Indies; Image 7: The massive, buttressed trunk or this venerable Ceiba pentandra was photographed several times at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, but it was not until this gentleman was asked to stand beside it that the gargantuan scale was obvious.

Ceiba pentandra is possibly the noblest tropical tree. It has immense, buttressed roots anchoring the colossal, lofty, thorny mast and supporting a massive spiral of horizontal limbs that hold billowing, palmately lobed foliage in level planes of bright green. A towering pachycaul, its prodigious superstructure has adapted to grow in all corners of the tropics. As it matures, it sheds its lower limbs, becoming pole-like. In winter, clustered at the stem ends, small, green, acorn-shaped calyxes open to reveal the cupped, compact, pale yellow or whitish, heavily waxy flowers with sturdy, curling, golden stamens. Nocturnal and bat-pollinated, they have a milky odour. After pollination, they are replaced by large, boat-shaped, felty pods filled with milky hairs. When they split open, the tree looks like it is covered in giant cotton balls. Eventually, the little seeds, which are attached to long, silky hairs, are launched to float far and wide. It is this silk that provides the famed kapok that is used to fill pillows, cushions and mattresses. Kapok was used in Europe during World War n for padding lifesaving jackets.

Ceiba pentandra is the tallest species in Africa, where it is planted for its cotton crop; it often signals the location of a village from far away and is revered in some customs as a habitat for spirits. The wood is very soft and exceedingly lightweight, rather like Balsawood. The young fruits and seeds are eaten or made into food-cake for cattle; the leaves and roots are medicinal. An important honey plant.

Ceiba aesculifolia; ([HBK] Britt. & Bak. f.), to 25 m (82 ft), C America. With a spiny trunk and branches. Flowers are yellow or white, with purple stamens. (10-12)


Image 5 (1) Ceiba acuminata; (Rose) Mexico, to 10 m (33 ft). This charming, small, slow-growing tree with a dense, rounded crown of digitate leaves was photographed in the arboretum of the Jardin Botanico de Cienfuegos, Cuba; Image 6: (2) The little blooms with their curling strap-like petals and sprightly, deep pink stamens measure about 10 cm (4 in.) across. (10—12) 

ceiba aesculifolia pollet 78ceiba insignis pollet 78

Images: (left) Ceiba aesculifolia & (right) Ceiba insignis (Pollet, 2010:78) 


Duabanga Classification: The Plant List

Balinese: Kejimas; Nusa Penida dialect: Tajimas?

Family Lythraceae (formerly: Sonneratiaceae)
Subfamily Duabangaoideae (Takht.; S.A. Graham, Thorne & Reveal)
Genus Duabanga (Buch. - Ham.)
Species 1. Duabanga grandiflora (Duabanga) ([Roxb. ex DC] Walp.)
  2. Duabanga moluccana (Blume)
  3. Duabanga taylorii (Jayaweera)?

Source: The Plan List

Duabanga grandiflora

(Barwick, 2004:157 - also: Duabanga sonneratioides; Lagerstroemia grandiflora)

duabangagrandiflora-barwick-157Origin: sub-Himalayas to Burma; height: up to 25 m (82 ft); type: evergreen, large foliage (flowering) tree; status: not threatened; habitat: in moist habitats and along the banks of streams; growth: fast; flowering: year-round; dry-tolerance: moderate; salinity tolerance: low; light: high; soil: water-retentive, fertile; nutrition: balanced fertilizer annually; deep, organic mulch; hazards: none; problems: brittle wood; environment: bat nectar; wild fruit for birds; propagation: seeds; large cuttings; leaves: simple; deep green; very long, narrow, to 33 x 10 cm (13x4 in.); held distichously; flowers: showy; white; held in large heads; nocturnal; bat-pollinated; with a smell of sour milk; fruit: capsule, to 3 cm (1.2 in.); with persistent calyx and style; splits into 6 parts; use: specimen; humid garden tree; public open space; large planter; conservatory; zone: 10—12


Image 1: Duabanga grandiflora: fruit held in heavy, star-shaped, persistent calyxes; Image 2: Duabanga grandiflora: smooth, greyish brown trunk prominently marked by shield-shaped leaf scars and peeling in flakes.

Of the rare Sonneratiaceae family, Duabanga grandiflora is closely allied to the Sonneratia species native to mangrove forests and tidal swamps of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, although at one time it was thought to be a Lagerstroemia. This species is commonly found on stream banks of warm, moist climate, from the sub-Himalayan tract in India through to the Malay Peninsula. It very quickly becomes a tall, evergreen tree with a smooth, greyish brown trunk prominently marked by hoop-shaped ridges, shield-shaped leaf scars and a bark that peels off in flakes. D. grandiflora is easy to spot in the jungle by its athletic, upward growth and whorls of long, horizontal branches that become massive and steeply drooping with age. These slender limbs are draped in superbly glossy, deep green, narrow-oval leaves, which emerge rosy pink and are held distichously along their length. They are brought into the same plane by the twigs twisting, rather than by the leaf stalks. The large, white flowers are held in sumptuous heads at the tips of the drooping limbs. They are nocturnal, opening at night, when they emit a strong smell of sour milk - evidently to attract their pollinators, the bats. Around 5 p.m., the large, crumpled, 4-8 lobed blooms emerge from their thick, leathery, green calyxes, unfolding to release their whirling mass of powdery, white anthers. The petals curl back to reveal large drops of sweet, clear nectar around the base of the ovary; by daybreak, the petals and stamens litter the ground. D. grandiflora blooms while still very young. The fruit capsule is seated in the persistent calyx and surmounted by a sturdy style. It splits longitudinally into 6 cells as it matures, to release its minute seeds. Known as Lampati in the timber trade, the soft wood is used for making plywood for tea chests and for the manufacture of matches.


Image 3: Duabanga grandiflora; Duabanga is easily recognized by its bold foliage and long, slender tumbling limbs; Image 4: Duabanga grandiflora; flowers, with their thick calyxes, show their kinship to the Sonneratiaceae family (common mangrove spp. of the Indian and Pacific Oceans).


  • Barwick, Margaret (2004) - Tropical & Subtropical Trees, a Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide, Thames & Hudson, United Kingdom, 484pp., p.157

Duabanga moluccana (Blume)

Source: Heyne, 1950: 1157-1158: English translation by G.Dijkman, original spelling in Indonesian has been maintained; for original Dutch text and source see below.

Local names. Jav.: Takir; Mad.: Takèr; Bal.: Kadjimas/Kajimas; Sas.: Radjoemas; Alf. Minah.: Ahes (bent.), Aret (t.l., t.t.), Arès (t.t.), Aras (tonsaw.); N. Halmah.: Raba (Gal.), Ranga (Tob.); Ternate: Ole; Tidore: Kora

Tree: 25-45 m high and 70-100 cm in girth, encountered in the eastern part of the archipelago, on Java mainly in Besoeki between 300-900 m altitude, unknown in central and west Java.

Wood: the bark is cylindrical, without protruding root system around the bottom (wortellijsten) and nearly without grooves or slits, so is able to produce wood of considerable size, although on Java it is considered not durable enough and therefore not used (K. & V. - I, p.195). On North Celebes, however, is has an excellent reputation, given Koorders book 'Minahassa'. There, it is described as light yet durable and very suitable to produce planks. 'Kajoe aret' is used to produce the most expensive proas, which last for many years. Inspector De Leau, working for Dutch colonial Civil Public Works department (Burgelijke Openbare Werken, B.O.W.) in Manado wrote that 'kajoe aret' had rather course threads and not very dense filaments, but it was strong and light and he confirmed that it was mainly used to produce proas. Very striking about this type of wood, in view of the fact that it is very useful, is its extraordinarily low specific gravity (mass density). I am quite surprised that this tree, which surely is to be found in Ambon too, is not mentioned by Rumphius.

Bark: a decoction made from grated bark, together with bark of Mallotus moluccana MUELL. ARG. or the bark or leaves of Homalanthus Beguinii j. j. sm. is used on Halmahera to dye pandan materials black; the leaves should be laid to rest for four to five days in the liquid.

Dutch original text

'Volksnamen. Jav.: Takir; Mad.: Takèr; Bal.: Kadjimas/Kajimas; Sas.: Radjoemas; Alf. Minah.: Ahes (bent.), Aret (t.l., t.t.), Arès (t.t.), Aras (tonsaw.); N. Halmah.: Raba (Gal.), Ranga (Tob.); Ternate: Ole; Tidore: Kora

Boom: 25 tot 45 m hoog en 70 a 100 cm dik, voorkomend in het oostelijke deel van de Archipel, op Java vooral in Besoeki tussen 300 en 900 m zeehoogte, in Midden-en West-Java onbekend.

Hout: De stam is zuilvormig, zonder wortellijsten en bijna zonder gleuven, kan dus hout leveren in voldoende afmetingen, doch op Java wordt dit als te weinig duurzaam, niet gebruikt (K. & V. - I, bl. 195). Op Noord-Celebes staat het daarentegen blijkens Koorders' Minahassa zeer goed aangeschreven; het wordt daar licht, maar duurzaam en zeer geschikt voor planken genoemd: van kajoe aret vervaardigde prauwen worden het duurst betaald en kunnen jaren lang worden gebruikt. De B.O.W. opzichter De Leau te Manado schreef, dat kajoe aret grof van draad en niet dicht van vezel is, doch sterk en licht en hij bevestigde, dat het bij voorkeur wordt gebezigd voor prauwen. Wat bij deze houtsoort bijzonder opvalt is haar voor een bruikbaar werkhout buitengewoon laag s.g.; het verwondert mij, dat deze boom, die toch ook op Ambon moet voorkomen, bij Rumphius niet is terug te vinden.

Bast: Een afkooksel van de fijngemaakte bast met die van Mallotus moluccana MUELL. ARG. of van bast dan wel bladeren van Homalanthus Beguinii j. j. sm. wordt op Halmahera gebruikt om pandan-materiaal zwart te kleuren; de bladeren moeten
een dag of vier in de vloeistof blijven liggen.'


  • Heyne, Karel - De Nuttige Planten van Indonesië, Parts I (p.1-1450) and II (p.1451-1660 & list of scientific names p.I-CCXII), H.Veenman & zonen, Wageningen, 1950; pp.1157-1158

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