Walking through the cloisters of the Cattedrale di Monreale (Sicily), I came across this unusual looking tree. At first glance its huge fruit could be mistaken for avocados, but a look at its comical, baobab-shaped and prickly trunk told me otherwise.
The Silk floss tree (Ceiba speciosa), originates in the tropical forests of South America. Belonging to the same family as the baobab, it can grow up to 25 metres in height. The young tree has a green trunk, which turns grey as it matures and is covered with thick conical thorns, which store water for use in dryer times.
The fruit are woody, oval pods containing black, bean-sized seeds from which vegetable oil can be obtained, whilst the soft, fluffy, cotton-wool substance has many uses: stuffing, packaging, paper ropes etc.
This image and a small FILM, I made many years ago, are all that are left of a mural I created for my son's bedroom wall. (S'cuse the inferior quality) For me, the question had always remained: What was the story behind the mural? With that in mind, I'm about to self-publish—the story behind the mural as a children's book and one that I have written, illustrated and designed too. Currently, I am working towards self-publishing the story, via a crowdfunder. So, watch this space and my other social media...