Ceiba (bottle tree)
Ceiba is a genus of plants belonging to the Bombacacea family, which includes about ten species of tropical trees native to Central and South America. The swollen trunk is undoubtedly the distinctive trait of this plant: at the base it is very wide and tapers towards the top, a shape similar to a bottle, hence bottle tree. These trees are among the tallest in the rainforest and can reach a height of up to 60 meters. The trunk is one of the most interesting parts of the plant, usually protected by thick spikes, it has a peculiar shade of light green, a color due to the presence of photosynthetic pigments in the bark. The wood loses this characteristic during the years and as it ages it becomes grey.
Ceiba is one of the dearest symbols of Mayan culture: a legend told on their sacred book Popul Vuh, tells that every ceiba was sowed by the creator gods, at the center of the universe they planted the Great Mother Ceiba whose branches reached the sky, representing the point of contact with the divinity, whereas the trunk represents life on Earth and the roots are an allegory of the afterlife.