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Cochlospermum orinocense (Tefé rose)

A striking South American tree, the empty fruits of which may turn up in your potpourri.
Flowers of Cochlospermum orinocense

Flowers of Cochlospermum orinocense

Species information

Scientific name: 

Cochlospermum orinocense (Kunth) Steud.

Common name: 

Tefé rose, Orinoco shellseed (trade names), algodão-bravo, algodãozinho, envira-mamão, piriquiteira (Brazil), majagua (Panama), huina caspi (Peru), algodonillo (Bolivia), carnestolendo (Venezuela)

Conservation status: 

Not known to be threatened.


Secondary forest, forest margins and natural clearings; also in seasonal, dry forests.

Key Uses: 

Craft products, bark fibre, folk medicine, and occasionally as an ornamental.

Known hazards: 

None known.


Genus: Cochlospermum

About this species

Originally considered to be in the same family as the kapok tree, and then in a family of its own, the genus Cochlospermum is now known to be a relative of annatto (Bixa orellana) – a South American plant widely used as a food dye.

Cochlospermum orinocense was first encountered in 1800 on the banks of the mighty Orinoco River by the great explorers and naturalists Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland. Like a number of tropical trees adapted to survival in seasonal climatic conditions, C. orinocense flowers while leafless during the dry season, ready to develop fruits when the rains come.

As a ‘pioneer’ species it grows rapidly and can colonise cleared areas. Its flowers are pollinated by solitary bees during an intensely synchronised flowering period. If bees are scarce, flowers can self-pollinate and produce fruits.


Bombax orinocense Kunth


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