This is Key West’s largest above ground group of Kapok Tree roots! I’ve reported on another of these in front of the Monroe County Courthouse on Whitehead Street. Besides being LARGER than the other, there’s an added bonus of seeing three of these at the same time all in the parking lot. The one shown to the left being the biggest of the bunch.
The Kapok Tree, also known as Ceiba & Silkcotton is the National tree of Puerto Rico & Guatemala. It grows up to 230 ft tall (10 ft a year) and has a very substantial trunk up to 10 ft in diameter which does NOT include its buttresses (legs/roots). It was also the sacred tree of the Mayans who believed that the souls of the dead climbed a mythical Kapok Tree whose branches reached to the heavens. Most commercial trees come from the island of Java in Indonesia, Asia, Philippines, Malaysia, & South America. The buoyant & water-resistant fibers of its cotton-like pod were used during WWII in life jackets known jokingly as Mae West’s being large and floaty! Its bark has a medicinal purpose and has been used as a diuretic, aphrodisiac, and to treat headache, as well as type II diabetes. Its most prevalent commercial uses are in furniture, insulation, caskets, canoes, & carvings.
You can find this growing behemoth in front of the Harvey Government Center at Historic Truman School on the corner of Truman Avenue & White Street here in beautiful Key West, Florida. Don’t miss this FREE year round exhibit of natures sprawling splendor, its above ground root system is larger than you are and makes and AWESOME souvenir photo!