Deciduous tree, 15-30 m tall, mostly 20-65 cm dbh; trunk unarmed, with greenish bark, with narrow plank buttresses to 1.5 in high; outer bark thin., grayish, with many vertical rows of lenticels, flaking; inner bark tan, thick, with irregular dark spots near periphery; branches at +/- regular intervals, self-pruning, the lowermost branches deciduous; branchlets roughened with lenticels and old petiolar bases. Leaves palmately compound, glabrous; stipules lanceolate; petioles +/- equaling leaflets, enlarged at both ends; blades (4) 5-7 (9), +/- narrowly obovate, emarginate at apex, 4-18 cm long, 1.5-6.5 cm wide. Flowers showy, white to pink, terminal on short lateral branches, solitary or as many as 5 on a branch, appearing before or after leaves fall, 13-24 cm long; pedicels 5-18 (32) mm long; calyx tubular, truncate or weakly lobed, about 1 cm long and 1 cm wide; petals 5, stellate outside, imbricate in bud, drying greenish, generally not markedly striped, and darker than B. quinata; stamens ca 250, fused into a column ca 8 cm long, the free part of filaments ca 6 cm long; anthers horseshoe-shaped, dehiscing by straightening, less than 2 mm long, shedding some pollen in bud; style bright red; stigma of 5 sharp lobes, pubescent inside. Capsules oblong, somewhat more elongate than B. quinata, the valves 5, woody, yellow-brown when fresh, opening to expose pale, often brownish kapok and seeds; seeds numerous, medium-sized, to 1 cm. Croat 8654, 129 76. Frequent in the forest, especially in the younger forest. Flowers from December to February. The fruits mature from March, persisting to October. Trees are bare for a short time in the dry season. Costa Rica and Panama; cultivated in Cuba and Jamaica. In Panama, known from tropical moist forest in the Canal Zone, Veraguas, and Panama, from tropical dry forest in Coclé and Panama, from premontane moist forest in the Canal Zone, Veraguas, and Panama, from premontane wet forest in Chiriqui and Panama, and from tropical wet forest in Colon.