canopy of bright yellow
The Kinihiriya is a small tree growing upto 7.5 m. The bark is smooth
and pale grey. It is sparsely clothed with leaves and sheds them
at the height of the flowering season. The leaves appear at the
tips of the branches and are palmately lobed.
flowers of the Kinihiriya are the most conspicuous part of the tree.
They are large, growing upto about 10 cm, buttercup shaped and bright
The stamens are orange. The flowering season is between February
and April, particularly after the leaves are shed.
fruits are brown and oval shaped. They come in the form of a capsule
made up of five segments. The capsule splits open to release the
seeds which are embedded in the silky cotton contained within. This
silky cotton is said to induce sleep when stuffed into pillows.
tree is known in English as the Yellow Silk Cotton tree. Like the
other silk cotton species its seeds are contained in a mass of silky
fluff, hence the name.
is also referred to as the Torchwood tree due to the flammable gum
exuded from the bark. This gum also has medicinal properties. The
Tamil name is Kongu. In Sinhala it is known as the Ela imbul and
Kinihiriya. The scientific name is Cochlospermum religiosum. Cochlospermum
because the seed resembles a snail. Religiosum because the flowers
are used as temple offerings.
from India the Kinihiriya is found growing in the dry, hilly areas,
particularly on rocky ground. Considering the almost barren ground
it thrives on, the magnificent flowers are all the more surprising.
In Colombo look out for this tree on Fife Road. Compiled by Ruk
Rakaganno, The Tree Society of Sri Lanka.