Foraging your Own Bedding – Shimul or Bombax Silk

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Shimul flower

Another foraging opportunity… if you live in China or India or Cuba or really, the Tropics. This tree has silk fibers much like the kapok tree and is commonly used to make mattresses in Asia.

This plant has a very long bloom period. It opens first bloom in fall, lights up the sky throughout winter and may still have a bloom or two in spring.

Like the kapok tree, it is a dry deciduous tree that loses its leaves in the dry season and replaces them with huge, bulky red flowers near top of tree with wide petals. The flowers up to 6″ across are edible.

For interest’s sake, the red-silk cotton tree, Bombax ceiba, is sometimes mistakenly called “Kapok” because it produces floss. The true Kapok is Ceiba pentandra and is not common in Florida. The red-silk cotton is in the Malvaceae family, but is sometimes placed in the Bombacaceae family by some authors.

Just like wool mattresses, sleepers recard their silk every few years as it compacts very firmly. Natural bug-repellents are used mixed in the cotton like eucalyptus or strong versions of mint or lavender.

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