Malvaceae Juss.
Ceiba Mill.

Ceiba rubriflora Carv.-Sobr. & L.P.Queiroz

This species is accepted, and its native range is Brazil (SW. Bahia).


de Carvalho-Sobrinho, J.G. & de Queiroz, L.P. (2008). Ceiba rubriflora (Malvaceae: Bombacoideae), a new species from Bahia, Brazil. Kew Bulletin 63: 649.

Critically Endangered CR B1a,b (IUCN 2001): extent of occurrence estimated to be less than 100 km2 in severely fragmented and declining habitat. conservation status. Cibirhiza spiculata may well have a wider range, but in view of its very restricted known distribution, the small number of plants seen, and the demand for the tuber as bush food, the species must be regarded as Endangered using the criteria outlined in version 3.1 of the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria (IUCN 2001). Also, Andropogon kelleri Schinz, the tuft-forming grass that often provides shelter for Cibirhiza spiculata, is much used for building purposes, etc, and is getting gradually rarer. We therefore propose the following Preliminary Conservation Assessment: EN(B2a,b(iii), D1).
Cibirhiza spiculata is known only from the area between Kebri Dehar and Shillabo in the eastern part of the Somali National Regional State (previously Harerge Region) of Ethiopia.
Acacia-Commiphora bushland on reddish sand at 550 – 570 m a.s.l., often found in tufts of the robust grass Andropogon kelleri. The individuals we studied of Ceiba rubriflora were collected in an area with a predominant vegetation of semi-deciduous forest, about 700 m a.s.l., on calcareous outcrops in the Serra do Ramalho, in the valley of the Rio São Francisco, south-western Bahia. Some other characteristic species of this area include Cavanillesia arborea K. Schum. (Malvaceae), Cnidoscolus vitifolius Pohl (Euphorbiaceae), Encholirium luxor L. B. Sm. & Read (Bromeliaceae), Ficus bonijesulapensis R. M. Castro (Moraceae) and Quiabentia zehntneri (Britton & Rose) Britton & Rose (Cactaceae). It flowers during July and August when leafless and set fruits in September.
Morphology General Habit
Tree up to 20 m tall, foliage caducous when flowered; trunk ventricose, swollen near the base, when young presenting longitudinal green stripes, provided with stout conical woody prickles to 20 mm long; vegetative branches short, aculeate, with leaves clustered toward the apex; flowering branches short, diverging from larger branches at an angle of c. 90°
Morphology Leaves
Leaves (3 –) 5-foliolate; petiole 25 – 75 mm long, slightly widened at the base, covered by whitish wax at the ends; leaflets sessile, glabrous, narrowly elliptic, oblong-elliptic, obovate-oblong or ovate-lanceolate, 3 – 3.8 × longer than wide, apex acute, c. 12°, provided with c. 4 mm long, caducous aristae, base cuneate, c. 11°, margin entire, midrib prominent beneath, inconspicuous above; two basal leaflets 20 – 35 × 6 – 10 mm, shorter than the three distal leaflets, these 45 – 85 × 11 – 25 mm
Morphology Leaves Stipules
Stipules c. 3 × 1 mm, triangular, early caducous
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers 48 – 53 mm long; calyx 17 – 20 (23) × 11 – 15 mm, light green, urceolate, 3-lobed, lobes 5 – 7 mm long, outer surface glabrous, inner surface sericeous in the upper half; corolla urceolate, petals 48 – 51 mm long, uniformly deep red, claw 18 – 23 × 3 – 5 mm, expanded in a obovate limb, 28 – 31 × 11 – 16 mm, margin undulate, apex unilaterally apiculate, outer surface sericeous toward the base, puberulous distally, inner surface glabrous becoming sparsely puberulous near the apex; stamens 5, filaments red, joined for 2/3 of their length; staminodial appendages absent; staminal column 28 – 30 mm long, glabrous, base widened, provided with a puberulous band near the swollen portion; free filaments c. 10 mm long, resupinate; anthers sinuous, yellow, 7 – 10 mm long; ovary c. 3 mm, subpyriform, 5-furrowed, glabrous; style 45 – 50 mm long, puberulous only in the basal third, exserted from the staminal column by c. 20 mm; stigma clavate, pubescent
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Capsule c. 100 × 30 mm, oblong; kapok white
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Racemes 2 – 4.5 cm long, 2 – 5-flowered; pedicel 10 – 15 × 2 – 5 mm; bracteoles 3, caducous, 1 × 3 mm, spirally alternate near the apex of the pedicel
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seed c. 5 × 4 mm, subpyriform, with microtrichomes, black, hilum c. 2 mm, triangular, salient.
The specific epithet highlights the deep red colour of petals and filaments, unique amongst the Brazilian species of Ceiba. Ceiba rubriflora is diagnosed by the relatively small flowers (to 53 mm long), deep red petals and stamens, staminal column lacking basal staminodial appendages, and relatively narrow leaflets with entire margins. A similar combination of non-appendaged column and entire leaflets is found in C. erianthos, C. schottii Britten & Baker f. and in some forms of C. pubiflora. C. schottii is restricted to dry woodlands in Mexico and Guatemala (Gibbs & Semir 2003) and presents a quite distinctive cylindrical calyx and much larger flowers with white, narrowly oblong (vs elliptical, oblong-elliptical, obovate-oblong) longer petals (170 – 190 mm long vs 48 – 51 mm long in C. rubriflora). Ceiba erianthos occurs mostly in Eastern Brazil but is unknown from the western São Francisco river basin (Gibbs & Semir 2003) where C. rubriflora is found. It differs from this new species by white (vs deep red), densely lanate-villous (vs puberulous) and larger petals (65 – 90 mm long vs 48 – 51 mm long), and petiolulate (vs sessile) leaflets.
Brazil, Bahia, São Félix do Coribe, J. G. de Carvalho-Sobrinho & L. P. de Queiroz 574 (holotypus HUEFS; isotypi K, UEC, NY).
Doonbir (Somali, at type locality). The name doonbir is also used for other climbers with edible tubers in the area, such as Schlechterella abyssinica (Chiov.) Venter & R. L. Verh.

The tuber is edible and searched for by the local population. The consistency and taste is reminiscent of raw potatoes.

Native to:

Brazil Northeast, Brazil Southeast

Ceiba rubriflora Carv.-Sobr. & L.P.Queiroz appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Kew Bull. 63: 649 (2008 publ. 2009)

Accepted by

  • Govaerts, R., Nic Lughadha, E., Black, N., Turner, R. & Paton, A. (2021). The World Checklist of Vascular Plants, a continuously updated resource for exploring global plant diversity. Scientific Data 8: 215.


Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Forzza, R.C., Zappi, D. & Souza, V.C. (2016-continuously updated). Flora do Brasil 2020 em construção

  • Kew Backbone Distributions

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

  • Kew Bulletin

    Kew Bulletin

  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.