Floss Silk Tree

Chorisia speciosa

The exotic floss silk tree features showy pink flowers, seed pods filled with fluffy white silk, and one of the most unique tree trunks in nature.

mature floss silk tree in bloom in a front yard

This tree has incredible "wow factor" for several reasons.

The thick trunk keeps its green color (see close-up below) and takes on a slightly bulbous shape as the plant matures.

The trunk also develops amazing thorns like spiky medieval weaponry.

Pretty pink flowers cover the treetop in autumn (this photo was taken in mid-November), followed by large, pear-shaped seed pods that contain a silky "floss" embedded with small seeds. The silk was once used to stuff pillows.

Best on large properties or as a single specimen in a medium-sized yard, the floss silk should be planted well away from foot traffic and play areas because of the thorns.

thorns on the trunk

Plant specs

These trees are fast growers when they're young, slowing down to a more moderate pace as they mature, with an ultimate height of about 35 or 40 feet tall.

Cold hardy anywhere in South Florida, the tree is deciduous (loses its leaves in winter). 

But the unusual trunk and irregular branching pattern make it an interesting landscape feature all year round.

Place in a full to part sun location.

pink flowers on top of the tree

Is it floss silk or silk floss?

The former is correct, though mention any combination and people who are familiar with this tree will know what you're talking about.

One way to remember the correct name is to think alphabetically: F comes before S.

Plant care

Add top soil or organic peat humus, mixed with composted cow manure, to the hole when you plant.

This is a fairly drought-tolerant tree. Water regularly for the first year to get it well-established, then give it more time to dry out between waterings once it's more mature.

Fertilize 3 times a year (spring, summer and fall) with a good granular fertilizer.

branch patterns in the canopy

Plant spacing

Come away from the house 15 feet or more to accommodate the eventual size of the canopy.

Plant 10 feet from drives or walkways so roots (as well as leaves and flower petals) don't become a problem.

This tree can be grown in a large container while it's young.

Landscape uses for the floss silk tree

  • single specimen tree
  • lining a large driveway
  • large anchor for a garden bed

A.K.A.(also known as): Silk Floss Tree (a common juxtaposition of the correct name)


COMPANION PLANT SUGGESTIONS: Use plants around or nearby that like to go a bit dry between waterings, such as selloum philodendron, dwarf oleander, variegated arboricola, muhly grass, burfordii holly, coontie, and ice plant.

Other trees you might like: Hong Kong Orchid Tree, Tabebuia Trees 

  1. Home
  2. Large Flowering Trees
  3. Floss Silk

Take a break!

cover Lazy Gardener's Guide

The ultimate guide to low-maintenance plants
and landscaping!

An ebook by
Chase Landre

author of

Learn more!

Get a greener thumb!

Want to learn more about South Florida planting, watering, fertilizing and dealing with weeds and pests?

See our Gardening How-To section for answers!

Get instant curb appeal!

cover Landscape in a Hurry

An ebook by
Chase Landre

author of

Learn how to get instant curb appeal with fast growing plants and landscaping techniques!

Learn more...