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Cotton-Producing Tree in CCK Town!

Spotted! Cotton-Producing Tree in CCK Town! Resident’s Story Tip Wins Prize

This silk cotton tree in front of Block 488C, Choa Chu Kang Avenue 5 once stood guard over the former Keat Hong Camp.

Keat Hong resident Franky Chong with 8-year-old Shiaw Jing and 5-year-old Shiaw Qian found some unusual white fluff on the floor near the tree and went by to check it out.

In April this year, when his daughter, Shiaw Qian started preschool in Brickland, Keat Hong resident Franky Chong noticed a tree near her school which was shedding soft, white fluff. Curious, he approached it for a closer look.

“When I realised it was cotton on the ground, I quickly looked up. To my surprise, I saw a big tree with cotton all over its branches,” said Franky. “As that was my first time seeing a real cotton tree, I googled for more information online.”

Franky’s daughters, 8-year-old Shiaw Jing and 5-year-old Shiaw Qian, showing off their soft, silky find.

According to Chua Chu Kang Town Council’s Senior Horticulture Manager, Kwok Hon Weng, the tree in question spotted by Franky is a Silk-Cotton tree. Located in front of Block 488C at Choa Chu Kang Avenue 5, this tree is native to tropical America and tropical West Africa and is grown in the tropics for the silky floss its fruits contain.

Commonly known in Asia by its Malay trade name, the Kapok tree produces fine, soft, elastic and waterproof floss, which has been used to fill pillows, cushions, mattresses and sleeping bags. In the early to mid-20th century, it was used to fill life jackets too.

Historical Origins from Former Keat Hong Camp

A close-up look at the silky fruits of the tree. The fine, soft, elastic and waterproof floss is used to fill pillows, mattresses and even life jackets.

According to Mr Kwok, this Silk-Cotton tree was planted in the former Keat Hong Camp compound. It was preserved by HDB when construction for the current Sunshine Gardens flats began in 2012. 

If you visit Singapore Botanic Gardens, you can see an older specimen of the ‘Kapok’ tree beside Holttum Hall. A designated heritage tree, its seed was part of an exchange between Singapore and the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana) in 1932, and planted in 1934 by the former director of Singapore Botanic Gardens, Eric Holttum.

After he found out more about the tree, Franky decided to share his discovery with fellow CCK Town residents through CCKTC’s Spot & Share campaign.

“Residents can take their children to see a real cotton tree here, instead of having to travel to Singapore Botanic Gardens, which is far away. The tree is also near Sunshine Place and easily accessible,” added Franky.

Mr Kwok tells us that this species of cotton tree usually flowers and bears fruit between March and June, so the June school holidays are just the right time to take the children there to check it out.

For his submission, Franky receives a $50 NTUC FairPrice voucher.

We want to hear from other residents too! If you’ve spotted anything interesting or discovered something unusual or someone extraordinary in CCK Town, share it with us.

Email If  your story tip is featured, you win a $50 NTUC FairPrice voucher.