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Genus Gossypium Family Malvaceae

Description: Perennial or facultative annual shrubs, often deciduous.

Leaves entire or variously lobed, mostly 3–5-lobed, glabrous to pubescent.

Flowers usually solitary, rarely clustered, axillary. Epicalyx segments 3, narrow to cordate, entire or deeply cut. Calyx short, truncate, 5-toothed or 5-lobed. Petals often large, usually with a darker area at the base. Ovary 3–5-locular; loculi with 2–several ovules; style and stigma usually long and slender.

Fruit a capsule, 3–5-locular; seeds usually hairy.


Photo © ANBG

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 40 species, tropical & subtropical regions. Australia: 12 species (9 species native), Qld, N.S.W., N.T., W.A., chiefly tropical & subtropical

Some species are cultivated for the long hairs which cover the seeds forming the material known as cotton. Oil is obtained by crushing the seeds (cotton-seed oil).

Text by A. S. Mitchell & E. H. Norris
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Petals mauve; embryos with no (or very few) glandsGossypium sturtianum
Petals cream or yellow; embryos with prominent glands2
2Fruit with no commercial, or obvious, cotton hairs; epicalyx segments linear or with a few teeth at apex; at least the lower leaves deeply lobed almost to baseGossypium thurberi
Fruit with commercial and obvious cotton hairs; epicalyx segments usually laciniate or deeply incised; leaves entire or lobed to c. midway
                       Back to 1
3
3Capsule 3–5-locular, ovoid to more or less globose; stipules 5–20 mm long; leaves 3–5-lobed, the central lobe usually 1–1.5 times as long as broadGossypium hirsutum
Capsule usually 3-locular, narrow-ovoid; stipules 1–5 cm long; leaves 3–7-lobed, the central lobe usually more than 1.5 times as long as broad
                       Back to 2
Gossypium barbadense

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