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 Gossypium subsp. var.  Cotton
Habit: shrub
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[[]] > Gossypium var. ,

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Gossypium is a genus of 39-40 species of shrubs in the mallow family, Malvaceae, native to the tropical and subtropical regions of both the Old World and the New World. The cotton plants, sources of commercial cotton fabric, are included in this genus.

Cotton shrubs can grow up to 3.0 m ft high. The leaves are broad and lobed, with three to five (or rarely seven) lobes. The seeds are contained in a capsule called a boll, each seed surrounded by fibres of two types.

These fibres are the commercially interesting part of the plant and they are removed by a process called ginning. At the first ginning the longer fibres, called staples, are removed and these are twisted together to form yarn for making thread and weaving into high quality textiles. At the second ginning the shorter fibres, called linters, are removed, and these are woven into lower quality textiles including the eponymous Lint.

Commercial species of cotton plant are G. hirsutum (90% of world production), G. barbadense (8%), G. arboreum and G. herbaceum (together, 2%). While cotton fibres occur naturally in colors of white, brown, and green, fears of contaminating the genetics of white cotton has led many cotton-growing locations to ban growing of coloured cotton varieties.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Gossypium (ancient name of the cotton plant). Malvaceae. Cotton. Perhaps thirty or more species of herbs and shrubs of warm countries, although more than 100 have been described; some authorities reduce them to about three. They are grown for the fiber that is borne on the seeds. See Cotton. They are scarcely horticultural subjects, and therefore are not treated fully in this work.

Gossypiums are tall stout herbs, or tree-form bushes: lvs. large, alternate, petiolate, mostly prominently 3-9-lobed but sometimes entire: fls. white, yellow or purplish, provided with 3-5 large cordate calyx-like bracts; calyx entire or somewhat 5-lobed; stamens united into a column; ovary 3-5-celled, each cell 3-11- ovuled; style 3-5-lobed: fr. a loculicidally dehiscent caps., bearing seeds that are obovate, rounded or slightly angular, sometimes smooth, but usually covered with a short down or fuzz and a longer coat of brown, creamy or white hairs, called the lint.

The cottons of commerce belong, according to Lewton, to about eight distinct botanical types and may be divided into two main groups, the New World and the Old World cottons. The New World group includes American Upland cotton (G. hirsutum, Linn.); Sea Island and Egyptian cottons (G. barbadense, Linn.); and the tropical tree cottons of South America (G. brasiliense, Macf. and G. peruvianum, Cav.). The Old World cottons include the Levant cotton (G. herbaceum. Linn.), cultivated in southern Europe and western Asia; the oriental tree cotton (G. arboreum, Linn.), with yellow or purple-red flowers; the common cotton of India (G. neglectum, Todaro); and the Chinese and Japanese cottons (G. nanking, Meyen.).

Cotton (probably G. herbaceum) was grown in gardens in Delaware and Maryland in colonial times as an ornamental plant.

Two species have been offered as ornamental plants. G. davidsonii, Kellogg, from Lower Calif, and Cerros Isls., woody, with handsome yellow fls. purple at the base, 1 in. long, and small cordate mostly entire lvs. G. sturtii, F. Muell., endemic in interior of Australia: shrub, several feet high, more or less marked with black dots: lvs. broadly ovate, entire, 1-2 in. long, glaucous: fls. large, purple with dark center; bracts to 1 in. long, cordate, entire, many-nerved, black-dotted. The common fiber-cottons are sometimes planted in northern gardens for curiosity, but they seldom make attractive plants where the nights are cool; sometimes they are seen in warm glasshouses, with other economic plants. CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


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Commercial cotton specieswp

Commercial cotton fibres, used to manufacture cloth, are derived from the fruit of the cotton plant. The following species are grown commercially:

Non-commercial species wp

Many varieties of cotton have been developed by selective breeding and hybridization of the above species. Experiments are ongoing to cross-breed various desirable traits of wild cotton species into the principal commercial species, such as resistance to insects, disease and drought-tolerance.


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Cotton field in Sukhumi botanical garden, photo ca. 1912


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