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Within the Gladys Porter Zoo compound in Brownsville, Texas, there I saw the most beautiful flowering tree, but it was also such a lethal looking tree. And, tho I can take pride in knowing a lot of names for hundreds of flowers, plants, bushes and trees...I DID NOT know this species. In fact, long time ago...when I was a kid and all our travels, I remember seeing one of these. But then, at that time in my life, I wasn't interested in 'growing or knowing'. The only thing I knew back then was if it's edible, my dad can grow it. [Did I ever tell you about his experimenting on his acreage all sorts of things you wouldn't think of growing in Colorado? Like pineapples and even peanuts? ---yep, he grew many things. And all quite successful too. The pineapples produced --but small compared to Hawai'i's huge ones. And the peanuts? Yep, they produced also...quite a crop I might add. But he never did roast them that I recall. He used them in bird feeders, and the squirrels love 'em]. But that's neither here nor there. Today, I wanted to post about the tree I saw again. I took pictures. And, it's a frightening looking 'creature'!!! Yet, the flowers that were blooming were so breathtakingly beautiful. It was gigantic in size. My guess is it jutted up into the sky close to 50 or 60 feet!! But the trunk....whoa, the trunk was massive in diameter, and lethal. Why? It had humongous, wicked-looking THORNS!! And the size of the thorns were in width of my thumbnail!! Barbarous comes to mind even thinking of them as I type my post.

Okay, so upon returning home, and the following day as I battled to recover my lost photos from the camera's memory card, I spotted the photos I took of this said tree and its blossoms. Still, I didn't know what breed of tree it was. And lo and behold...off to Google I go. I typed in 'big thorny green bark flowering tree'...lol, yep that's exactly what I typed for my search. I viewed and read several pages that were linked as they came up in the search, and after ten or twelve loaded for me, I found it!!

It's called Silk Floss Tree. Native of Brazil. And they're propagated from seeds!! Yet, from what I gather in my reading they're quite common in the tropical areas of Old Mexico and some references to them existing in USA...mainly in Florida and California. Well, I'll be.

Not only was this particular tree in the zoo grounds blooming, there were seed pods on the walkway. Naturally, I picked up one pod and stuffed it into my pocket. I have the dried seeds, but I doubt whether I will plant them, unless I can keep it controlled in a large planter. You see, from the sites I read about them, they grow to the height of 60 feet or more and the trunk size IS enormous when matured. But the flowers....wow. Simply gorgeous. Tropical...orchid like in texture and markings.

Are you wanting to see the two photos I saved from our day trip?

[see the
thorn, to
the left
of the

get to
the beauty-
has a
way of

POSTED: Wednesday, October 28th, 2009
5:15 A.M.


  1. The flowers are just gorgeous! But that trunk is definitely wicked looking. Good luck if you try and grow one, I'd love to know you're successful. And I cracked up when I read about your google search - that's how I search for things too, very literally, and it drives my DH nuts. But boy you can find some interesting things that way lol. Kathy

  2. That's a fascinating tree. Maybe you could grow your seeds and make a bonsai out of it.

    Wordless Wednesday - Now That's Scary

  3. Wow - I can't believe all those types of plants - really cool !

  4. Such an awesomely beautiful post.

  5. awesome tree! the first photo is stunning---the textures are wonderful.

  6. Beautiful...

  7. I love what you have done with your site first of all! VERY NICE!

    This tree is AWESOME! Looks like an orchid, that bloom! Very pretty! That bark is crazy. I love me a good tree!

  8. That is the most unusual tree! Those spines ARE wicked!

  9. Anni,

    The blossoms of the tree are gorgeous and yes, nature has a way of protecting its own. I've never heard of a Silk Floss Tree, let alone seen one. Interesting topic again this morning. I learn so much from your blog. Thanks for sharing.

    Enjoy a quiet day.

  10. Wow Anni what a beautiful tree even with the torns... I have seen them in Florida but never knew that they were called Silk Floss Tree. Now I know thanks... Have a super day and thanks for sharing this interesting information with us. Great photos...


  11. That is so amazing. The bloom looks like a Lily, which I love!

  12. Interesting post Anni,
    Yes that trunk does look quite nasty! I bet you didn't go too near!
    Hugs Sue. (Mrs Twins)

  13. wow, what a trunk on that bad boy!! i love that your dad experimented with gardening!! i grew my first garden this year. and while the critters and bad bugs got the better of it, i sure learned a lot trying!! it was a blast i will definitely be experimenting this next year!! right now i have a fall garden growing, now sure how well it will fare, as i am trying my best to grow organic, but time will tell!!

  14. Hi Anni! This is an awesome post for Outdoor Wednesday! The beautiful flower is so delicate and the tree it blooms on is so harsh and prickly looking. A most unusual combination. Thank you so much for giving us a peek at something most of us have never seen before.

    Kindly, ldh

  15. What an amazing tree! I've never seen or heard of this one. Thanks for sharing. It's always fun to learn something new.
    Happy Halloween! Thanks for stopping by to visit. Hope to see you again. I plan to post for Tablescape Thursday tomorrow and also share my own Halloween decor on Friday. Come back by if you have a moment.

  16. Don't think I have ever seen a tree like that. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Hi Annie,
    Unbelievable, yet beautiful. Thank you for sharing,

  18. Oh wow, look at the thorns on that tree!! It almost seems impossible that such a tree would produce such tropical like flowers...it's gorgeous. How exciting, though, that you would come across this tree, remembering it from childhood, and finally being able to find out the name of it.

    I also found it quite fascinating to learn that your dad would grow so many unusual things, you definitely must do a post about it:-) xoxo

  19. Wow, neat tree. I came over from Pat's to see the lethal part. Super interesting.

  20. What a cool looking tree, and the blossoms are gorgeous!

  21. Wow ... what amazing 'protection' this tree has and a LOVELY blossom! Isn't nature wonderful?
    Hugs and blessings,

  22. That tree is cool. I've never seen anything like that before. Have a great Wednesday!

  23. Anonymous10/28/2009

    It is just beautiful :)

  24. I think I will take a pass and not climb that tree. Yikes!

  25. Hi Darlin Annie

    thanks so much for stopping by and saying hi -- What a great post you have here. Such a cool tree and flower!

    TTFN !! Claudia

  26. That's really a very special flower and plant. I have never seen such in my life.

  27. How wonderful you were able to identify the tree. The trunk is nasty looking but its flowers are beautiful. Have a great day, Anni.

  28. Hello Anni! I loved your blog. I feel we are kindred spirits regarding plants and nature. Childhood memories are important to me, and I understand before knowing some things, and not caring about the rest, and now enjoying discovering what I don't know and what I forgot. This tree is incredible, and the flower beautiful. I wish you had taken more photos! Next year... :)

  29. I have never seen anything like it. Crazy cool. I love it.

  30. Wow! That is a lethal looking tree!

  31. Interesting tree and blooms. Isn't Google just wonderful? I'm amazed and the weird combination of words I can enter and eventually find what I need. Thanks for the Halloween treat!


  32. OUCH that tree is insane I have never seen anything like that

  33. Thorns galore my gosh noone is going to pick that little beauty! Happy WW Anni!

  34. Wow! Those thorns are more wicked looking than my 10 year old bougainvillea plants. Beautiful flowers.

    Thank you for sharing the photos and information about the Silk Floss Tree.

    ~ Tracy

  35. That is one ugly tree. A beauty of a flower on it, though. I wonder what the tree is protecting itself form. I don't believe I'd plant it, either.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Mama Bear

  36. Yikes! Those are big thorns! The tree's flower is exquisite...looks almost like an orchid. Greta Outdoor Wednesday post! Love all your Halloween goodies! :-)

  37. What a neat and interesting post. I love the flower, but not familiar with the tree. A post well done.

  38. What a cool tree, I do not think I have ever seen thorns all over the tree trunk. I would love to go to Brownsville for a birding trip. maybe someday. i enjoyed your post and photos.

  39. I love the look of your October blog, I guess I have not been by in a while. Love the pics too!

  40. Anonymous10/28/2009

    What an incredibly interesting tree!!

  41. Ouch! That tree looks painful! Hope you are having a great Outdoor Wednesday and have a Happy Halloween : )

  42. Hi Anni, I have seen a lot of these trees (SoCal) everywhere. And they bloom in the fall, and we have them in pink. We also call it kapok tree, and back in the Philippines, (long time ago) we use the cotton from the pods to stuff pillows. But this is the first time I have this color with a tinge of yellow. It is beautiful.

  43. what beautiful pics...love that flower!

  44. Such wicked looking thorns on that tree...I wonder what that flower contains that it must be so protected? Just the way my mind works! LOL!:) Great post! Thanks for stopping by and saying "hi!"


  45. Wow! That thorn tree is wicked! I have never seen that before!!

    Have a great day!

  46. wow, that's a spectacular tree! and i also definately haven't seen one before!

  47. What an interesting tree! And what a secret it protects! Wonderful!


  48. Yikes!! I bet you won't find a kid climbing that tree!!! But the flowers are gorgeous.

  49. Thanks for stopping by my photo blog! Always love nice compliments:). That is a creepy looking tree. Blech!


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