Kalanchoe crenata > NEVER-DIE Kalanchoe pinnata > CURTAIN PLANT KAPOK

(from a Malay word, kapoq) is the very light fibre that covers the seeds of silkcotton trees, used for stuffing pillows, lifebelts, etc., The Red Silkcotton Tree (Bombax ceiba) is grown in the West Indies (though it is not indigenous to the area), and they say there that it is the haunt of ghosts and other spirits, hence the names Jumbie Tree or Devil's Tree. Doubtless it is the kapok itself that suggests it. Anyone trying to cut one down could expect harm (Bell), unless he had propitiated the duppy first with rum and rice put round the root. But the usual tree producing kapok is Ceibapentandra, from West Africa, Malaysia, etc., The floss is harvested chiefly from cultivated trees in Java, Sri Lanka and the Philippines (Everett). This is a sacred tree in Yoruba belief (J O Lucas), and in Maya cosmology, a sacred silkcotton tree (another name for the Kapok Tree) stood at each of the four cardinal points, fertilising and feeding life in the four directions. Each tree had its colour (red - east; white - north; black - west; yellow - south), and in each tree a bird nested. There was also a central tree, green in colour to represent the fountain of all life (I Nicholson). In Ghana, it is often used in sorcery, and sorcerers themselves are believed to have the power to change themselves into a silkcotton tree, which is a place of assembly for witches. Any big forest tree like this is also said to be a place where tutelary spirits reveal themselves (Debrunner).

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