By Karen Bong & Ashley Sim
KUCHING, April 22: Fluffy, white, puffy balls are covering the ground and drifting like snow outside Astana Negeri, creating a magical wintry atmosphere that is both beautiful and unexpected.
No, it is not snowing — the soft substance is from a nearby kapok tree in full bloom, warmly welcoming the arrival of Aidilfitri.
These puffs are actually fibers of the kapok tree (also commonly known as cotton tree) which are produced by its seed pods. As the wind blows, the cottony fibers drift through the air, eventually settling on the ground, where they accumulate in drifts and piles, much like snow.
The fibers are used for a variety of purposes such as stuffing pillows and mattresses, insulation, and even as a buoyancy aid in life jackets.
The kapok tree is a common tree species found in Sarawak, also known as ‘Pokok Raja’ or ‘King of Trees’. It can grow up to 60 metres in height, with a straight trunk and broad canopy of leaves.
The sight of the familiar puffs tends to induce a sense of nostalgia among the older generation. It is not unusual to see kapok trees budding across various locations in the city at the same time.
Furthermore, a number of online sources claim each kapok tree in Malaysia is worth approximately a million ringgit. In 2008, it was said that the 80-year-old kapok tree at Padang Merdeka in Kuching was estimated to be worth RM1,092,436.20.
The current bloom at Astana Negeri provides a stunning background for photos and selfies. So, hurry to Astana Negeri today to see the ‘snow’ and take some beautiful photos for memories or to share with friends and family. — DayakDaily