Scientific Name: Ceiba Pentandra

Plant Family: Bombacaceae

Other Names: kapoc, cotton tree

The Ceiba, the national tree of Guatemala, was considered as the Maya Sacred Tree of Life. The trees, which grow extremely tall, connect the earth to the sky. It is said that the Ixtabai, the malevolent forest spirit, often frequents them at night.
The trunks of the Ceiba, especially of the younger Ceibas, are covered with spines which protect it from animals. Besides the spiny trunk, the tree also has characteristic seeds imbedded with a soft material known as "kapoc." Kapoc is traditionally used to make pillows, matresses, furniture, and life-vests. These seeds can also be used to make oil for soaps and lamps. The wood of the tree is often used to make canoes.