Word of the Week (WOW) – Kapok


Word of the Week (WOW) is a weekly meme created by Heena Rathore P. It’s a fun way to improve vocabulary by learning new words every week.

To participate, simply do a post with your word and leave the link as a comment on Heena’s WOW post for this week (above link). It’s a nice post to do and will give you some practice with a dictionary, of which there are several online. Illustrations are by no means necessary, but it’s up to you.

Here is my WOW for this week:


 Word: Kapok

Pronunciation: ka·pok  [key-pok; keɪpɒk]

Part of Speech: Noun


1.  The silky down inside the seed pods of a silk-cotton tree (kapok tree) Ceiba pentandra, of Indonesia, Africa and tropical America. It is used for stuffing pillows, life jackets etc. and for acoustical insulation. It is also called Java Cotton.

Kapok tree pods, Madeira. Author: Veleta. Wikimedia Commons.
Kapok seeds and silky fibre on Ceiba pentandra, Kolkata, West Bengal, India. Author: J.M. Garg

2. A massive tropical tree with deep ridges on its huge trunk and bearing large pods of seeds covered with silky floss – the source of the silky kapok fibre.

Kapok tree in Foster Botanical Gardens, Honolulu, Hawaii. Wikimedia Commons. Author: J.M.Garg
White-flowered Ceib pentandra showing spines on the buttressed trunk. Attribute: Atamari. Wikimedia Commons


1. For the kapok fibre: plant fibre, cushioning, padding, Java Cotton

2. For the kapok tree:  Bombay ceiba, Ceiba pentandra, ceiba tree, God tree, silk-cotton tree, white silk-cotton tree



Word Origin:

1740-50; < Javanese (or Malay of Java and Sumatra) kapuk or kapoq the name of the large tropical tree which produces the fibres.

Use in a Sentence:

1. They say that when the kapok tree blooms it is time to gather the crocodile eggs.

Kapok flowers on Ceiba pentandra. Kolkata, West Bengal, India. Wikimedia Commons. Author: J.M. Garg

2. Viewing platforms have been constructed in the tall kapok trees to allow tourists to look out over the rainforest canopy.

3. Emergent trees like the kapok rise above the rainforest canopy and provide a home for plants dependent on sunlight.

4. Naturally silky and resilient, kapok is the traditional stuffing for sitting cushions, in addition to cushions used by people who meditate in the kneeling position.

Colourful monk’s prayer or meditation cushions scattered in the courtyard of Wat Pho temple in Bangkok. Image from Shutterstock.

If you’d like to check out more interesting words then visit Heena’s page:

Word Treasure

23 thoughts on “Word of the Week (WOW) – Kapok

    1. I’m trying hard to leave my geography teaching days behind, Scribbley. I just enjoyed finding pics for the kapok tree. 🙂 There weren’t too many words beginning with K that I liked (or could illustrate). Next week should be better with L.

  1. In and around Potgietersrus(Mokopane) South Africa where I lived before moving to NZ were many Kapok trees. They had those thorny trunks and had big pink flowers. They were usually the first trees to start flowering after winter. I think I must have a look and quickly do a post on them.

    1. A post from you about those trees would be excellent. I can only talk about what I’ve seen in books or the web. You have actually seen them! Brilliant! Thanks, Scrapy. 🙂

  2. It’s lovely see the actual tree of Kapok. I find your WOW series have become more and more educational. We not only get to learn a new word each week, but get to see more interesting pictures 🙂 Thank you very much dear Millie! 😉

    1. It takes longer to find suitable pictures than it does to write the post, Khloe. I enjoy looking for them, though. I’m glad you liked the word! 🙂

    1. Do you have any of these trees in your
      area, Heena? They are very beautiful things when in flower. Scrapydotwo posted some gorgeous pictures of kapok trees with pink blossom after reading my post. She used to live in Souh Africa, I like the sound of the word, too. Thank you, Heena. 🙂

      1. You’re welcome dear!
        And now that you mention it, I have, intact, seen these trees… When I was young and used to visit my grandparents (mom’s side), the roads near their town used to be lined with these trees… if I’m making the right connection here, then yes, I’ve seen them and also touched and plucked and played with them.. heheh!
        I’ll surely check out Scrapdotwo’s post. Thanks for telling me Millie!

  3. Hahahaha – I grew up with these trees. One of my many jobs was collecting the kapok seeds, separating them from the fluffy part that mum sewed into our pillows. This is wonderful, thank you.

    1. What happy memories for you. And first-hand knowledge of the pods and fibre, too. How great is that! Were your trees white or pink flowered? I could only find pictures of the white ones, but Scraydotwo posted some lovely photos of pink-flowered ones after she’d read my post. They were taken when she lived in South Africa.

      1. They were white. But I must thank you Millie – I forgot all about that experience until you reminded me. I might include that in my story. My great uncle had the tree and the whole village shared the kapok for pillow. It was so long ago.

      2. I’m sure your mum will remember it, but you seem to remember about the seeds and fibre anyway, They’re awesome trees, with all those thorns on the trunk. I’d love to see some in reality myself. Perhaps one day…

      3. I know we had three trees in total. But the most matured tree belonged to my mother’s uncle (grandma’s bro) whom I also called Awac – ‘uncle’. The tree was right in the middle of the village and everyone shared it. We used the sharp thorns to make tattoo and remove prickles and shell fish from our feet and hands (no one ever had needles). The tree gave a lot to us. The kids would collect all the dry pods and break them open and separate the seeds. Then we spread the fluffy cotton and laid it out in the sun for a few days to dry completely. We rubbed it together to make it soft and fluffy and stuffed them into the pillow cases and my mother sewed them up. Mum’s uncle is still alive. He and his three brothers (all in their 80s). They lost their two sisters and one brother. I don’t know if they have any of those trees left! Good little chapter. 🙂 You have got me going now…:)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.