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Publication #ENH323

Chorisia speciosa 'Monsa': 'Monsa' Floss Silk Tree1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2

Introduction

This rounded, evergreen tree eventually has spreading branches, which are green when young and without spines. Young trees can have an upright of moderately vase form. The trunk is unusually thick and remains green even on older trees. Floss silk tree can reach 50 feet in height with an equal or greater spread, and grows rapidly the first few years, then more slowly. The crown shape is more predictable than the species. The large, showy, pink and white, five-petaled flowers that somewhat resemble narrow-petaled hibiscus, are produced in small clusters in fall and winter (usually October) when the tree is nearly bare. The fruits are large, 8-inch-long, pear-shaped, woody capsules, filled with silky, white, kapok-like floss and pea-like seeds. Floss from the seeds was used for stuffing pillows, and thin strips of the bark have been used to make rope.

Figure 1. 

Mature Chorisia speciosa 'Monsa': 'Monsa' Floss-Silk Tree


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General Information

Scientific name: Chorisia speciosa
Pronunciation: koe-RIZZ-ee-uh spee-see-OH-suh
Common name(s): 'Monsa' floss silk tree
Family: Bombacaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 10A through 11 (Fig. 2)
Origin: not native to North America
Invasive potential: has been evaluated using the UF/IFAS Assessment of the Status of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas (Fox et al. 2005). This species is not documented in any undisturbed natural areas in Florida. Thus, it is not considered a problem species and may be used in Florida.
Uses: shade; specimen; street without sidewalk; highway median
Availability: not native to North America

Figure 2. 

Range


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Description

Height: 35 to 50 feet
Spread: 40 to 55 feet
Crown uniformity: irregular
Crown shape: vase
Crown density: moderate
Growth rate: fast
Texture: coarse

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: palmately compound
Leaf margin: serrate
Leaf shape: elliptic (oval)
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches, 4 to 8 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. 

Foliage


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Flower

Flower color: pink
Flower characteristics: very showy

Fruit

Fruit shape: oval, round
Fruit length: 6 to 12 inches
Fruit covering: dry or hard
Fruit color: brown, white/gray
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches don't droop; very showy; typically one trunk; thorns
Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure
Breakage: resistant
Current year twig color: green
Current year twig thickness: medium
Wood specific gravity: unknown

Culture

Light requirement: full sun
Soil tolerances: sand; loam; clay; acidic; alkaline; well-drained; occasionally wet
Drought tolerance: high
Aerosol salt tolerance: low

Other

Roots: can form large surface roots
Winter interest: yes
Outstanding tree: yes
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: unknown
Pest resistance: free of serious pests and diseases

Use and Management

An excellent specimen tree for parks, parking lots, and other large landscapes, floss silk tree is spectacular when in bloom, producing an outstanding show of color in the fall. Large roots often form at the base of the trunk just beneath the soil, so be careful not to plant the tree too close to sidewalks or pavement. Ten feet from curbs, driveways, and sidewalks should be adequate.

Prune the tree to be sure that only one central trunk develops when the tree is young. The central leader becomes less vigorous in middle age, allowing lateral limbs to develop into the main structure of the tree producing a spreading form. Although most branches are horizontal and well attached to the tree, upright branches can develop with embedded bark, which can cause a branch to split from the trunk. Prevent this by pruning the major limbs so they remain less than half the diameter of the trunk.

Flowering best in full sun, floss silk tree will thrive on any reasonably fertile soil with good drainage. It is not salt tolerant but does tolerate high pH. Grafted trees are preferred as they bloom earlier and at a smaller size.

Two grafted selections are available: 'Los Angeles Beautiful' has wine red flowers, and 'Majestic Beauty' has rich pink flowers.

Propagation is by seed or grafting.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern.

Literature Cited

Fox, A.M., D.R. Gordon, J.A. Dusky, L. Tyson, and R.K. Stocker (2005) UF/IFAS Assessment of the Status of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas. Cited from the Internet (November 3, 2006), http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/assessment.html

Footnotes

1.

This document is ENH323, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Reviewed May 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.