top of page

Ochroma pyramidale - Balsa Tree


Native to:



Parts of Central America, northern South America, the Caribbean.

Lowland areas. Up to 1000 meters above sea level. 30 meter tall tree.

Ochroma pyramidale - Balsa Tree

Ecological value:

Habitat for bats, monkeys and other rainforest dwellers. Pollinated by
birds, monkeys, kinkajous and olingos. Pioneer species that is fast growing and can rapidly colonize learning. Short lived. Can reach 20m in 7 years. Mature at 12-15 years old.

Material uses:

Very light weight wood, highly buoyant. Prone to attack from wood-boring insects. Used in floats, buoys, life jackets, surf boards, toys and models, as insulation, and for pulp and paper. Fiber from bark used in ropes. Kapok-like seed fiber used as stuffing for pillows and mattresses.

Edible uses:

No part of tree is known for human consumption.

Medicinal use:

Root bark is emetic.

Other details:

Sometimes planted as an ornamental. 90% of commercial supply is grown in
Ecuador. Highly sensitive to damage by fire. Fruiting begins around 3-4 years old, produces seed all year round


Jemma Bridges/Christine Facella


“Ochroma Pyramidale - Useful Tropical Plants.” n.d. Accessed November 14, 2023.
‌Barwick. M., ‘Tropical and Subtropical Trees - A Worldwide Encyclopaedic Guide’, Thames & Hudson, London, 2004
Image source: Marco Schmidt.

bottom of page