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The Red Cotton Tree

 
                    
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I recently picked up some lovely red cotton tree flowers.



Here in Thailand they are much darker and richer in colour than the ones that I am used to seeing in Southern China.  If I recall correctly it is the emblem flower of Guangdong.

Anyway I went to check it out on wikipedia and found this quote.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombax_ceiba

"This tree is referred in the Sikh Scriptural enlightener, Guru Granth Sahib as follows: The semal tree is straight as an arrow; it is very tall, and very thick. But those birds which visit it hopefully, depart disappointed. Its fruits are tasteless, its flowers are nauseating, and its leaves are useless."

As a firm believer in permaculture, I find it hard to believe that any species is completely tasteless, nauseating and useless.

I have heard that the flowers can be used for soup and a refreshing drink, but do not much more than that.  Can anybody shed any more light on this beautiful plant?
 
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Location: Toronto Canada
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in the caribbean its known as sorel the petals are plucked and boiled with sugar and fresh ginger then cooled in the pot and strained through a cloth, high in vitamin C and a Jamaican Christmas Tradition. served over ice with a measure of white rum. delicious
 
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Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
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The Caribbean 'sorel' might be 'roselle' - a hibiscus that makes the delicious drink that Keif described.  I recently obtained the seeds and hope go grow it next summer in my cooler climate
 
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