P80516Seriously, I am not making this up. ‘Drunk Stick’ is what the Spanish name of ‘palo borracho’ translates into. It is one of the few common names of the tree I know only as floss silk tree, Chorisia speciosa or Ceiba speciosa. Yes, it sounds crazy, but not as crazy as what the trunk and limbs looks like. One can speculate why it is known as ‘drunk stick’. I am not certain that I want to know.

The trunk in the picture is that of a small tree still in a #5 can. Larger trunks are no better. They are fat and green, and outfitted with these weird conical thorns. The thorns are not too terribly sharp like those of hawthorns or cacti, but they are terribly stout. Seriously! They are like made of wood! As the green trunk grows, it becomes distended, but only makes more thorns to cover the expanding surface of the bark. Even large trees are covered with these horrid things! Only the smallest limbs lack them, and even they have smaller versions. Drunk stick might be endemic to Bedrock, but Bamm-Bamm Rubble would not build his treehouse in one.

Why on Earth would anyone want this aberration of nature in the garden?! Well, it is interesting. After all, it got your attention. Several were planted as street trees in the medians of Santa Monica Boulevard through West Hollywood, to show off their weird trunks. On top of that, over the exteriors of their low and broad canopies, their fluorescent pink bloom matches their lime green trunks about as well as socks that Valley Girls (from the Santa Clara Valley of course) wore in the 1980s. Neither inebriation nor intimidation with a thorny stick is necessary to appreciate the uniqueness of the drunk stick.

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13 thoughts on “Drunk Stick

  1. I Googled this one and it is grown up north and the common Afrikaans name is Kapokboom and on further Googling, kapok is a Malaysian word: noun. a silky fibre obtained from the hairs covering the seeds of a tropical bombacaceous tree, Ceiba pentandra (kapok tree or silk-cotton tree): used for stuffing pillows, etc, and for sound insulation Also called silk cotton. Word Origin. C18: from Malay. Word Origin and History for kapok.

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    1. I really doubt that it is repellent to squirrels, but they probably do not climb it. The thorns probably get in their way, and the bark is quite smooth, so may be difficult to get a grip onto. Besides, there is probably nothing in the trees that they want. I really do not know if squirrels eat the seeds or use the fiber for anything.

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    1. YES! A large one of these was at the end of a long narrow lawn in front of our dormitory at Cal Poly. It looked compelling, but prevented anyone from running for a Frisbee on the lawn!

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