Sorry, but I can't leave this post entirely wordless. The tree in this photo grows in the parking lot at the university where I teach. It has fascinated me for many years. I have no idea what kind of tree this is. What I do know is that starting in mid-April, the tree begins to bear its strange "fruit" -- cotton balls the size of cantaloupe. It's truly amazing to see when the tree is in full bloom! Because I had to snap this photo with my iPhone, it was impossible for me to zoom in on the "fruit" itself, but you can see several other cotton balls behind the main image.

Thorns grow all over the trunk and branches of this tree. In its native habitat, the thorns must be a protective barrier between the tree and whatever critters might want to steal its crop of cotton balls, I suppose.

If anyone knows what kind of tree this is, I would love to share your knowledge!

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6 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Aloha from Maui!!

    Cotton ball tree?? I had to check it out to see if I recognize the tree or the fruit--unfortunately no.

    Happy WW!
    Cindy O

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I haven't read all the comments on my blog but saw in my reader you left a comment about the iPhone. I will respond of course but aren't they the bomb? I so wish they had zoom and a flash. But oh well...I couldn't live without mine now...well yes I suppose I could LOL. Is there an agriculture department at the University you could go ask about the tree? I so hope you find out or someone here knows. I know someone I can send this link to. He'a a scientist. OC & the Quill is his blog. Maybe he can help. Hope you had a great birthday yesterday. :)

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Okay me again. Here's who I asked: and here's what I asked: Hey OC. You were the first person I thought of that maybe could help here. Could you check out this blog post: and see if you know what kind of tree that is? Mahalo plenty my friend. If anyone knows I bet OC will be able to help :)

  4. Carleen Says:

    I will be so happy to solve the mystery of the cotton ball tree. I've asked a couple of the groundskeepers, with whom I often have coffee and discuss history, but they don't know what it is, either. We do have an arboretum on campus, so I may just try them to see if they know. Oh, and just a bit of trivia about our campus arboretum -- we have a corpse flower plant that blooms every year! It's gorgeous to see, but it really does STINK! You can see it here.

    I don't know what's better -- the iPhone or the stinky corpse flower, LOL!

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Are you sure it's a fruit that's growing and not a nest of caterpillars? We have some trees and bushes around here that get big balls of caterpillars on them. Just a thought. Still don't know what kind of tree it is though.

  6. Paula Says:

    Chorisia speciosa, AKA silk floss tree. One of my favorites too and saw it at my university and always wondered what it was called

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