from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The popular name of several species of Gossypium, natural order Malvaceæ, from which the well-known textile substance cotton is obtained.
  • n. All parts of the cotton-plant are valuable, even the stubble, which forms a good coarse forage. The bark of the stems contains a fiber which it has been proposed to extract and put to several uses for which it is adapted, and the root-bark is medicinal. The main values lie in the staple or lint borne upon the seeds within the 3 to 5 cells of the pod or boll, which opens at maturity into as many divisions or locks, and in the seed itself (see cotton-seed). The cottons grown in the United States are believed to belong exclusively to the two species Gossypium hirsutum (the short-staple or upland cotton, a native of tropical America often identified with G. herbaceum) and G. Barbadense (the long-staple or sea-island cotton, including the Egyptian *cotton, which see). The long-staple upland cottons appear to be derived by selection from hybrids of these two species. The sea-island cotton-plant differs from the upland in its larger growth (it is from 3 to 8 feet high against 3 or 4 feet), longer and more flexible branches, more deeply lobed leaves, bright-yellow flowers, and sharp-pointed smaller bolls having but 3 cells instead of 4 or 5. In the upland cotton the staple ranges from ¾ to 1⅛ inches in length; in the sea-island, from 1⅜ to 2 inches; in the long-staple upland, between the two. The short-staple or upland is the ordinary cotton of the southern United States. Long-staple upland is grown sparingly in all the cotton States, in larger quantity in the delta region of the Mississippi, that is, on the broad alluvial flats along the river, chiefly between Memphis and Natchez (see bender *cotton). Sea-island cotton is grown only in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, and the product forms less than one per cent, of the whole. The greater cost of its production precludes its use except for the highest grades of fabrics.


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