First described by Linnaeus, the cotton plant, genus Gossypium, is one of the most economically and socially important crops in the world.
It is a dicotyledonous plant, having an erect stem with apical growth. The stem is soft and woody and has branches arranged in a 3/8 spiral phyllotactic pattern. Leaves vary in size, shape, texture, and hairiness. Flowering branches produce 6 to 8 flowers per branch on average. The cotton plant has a taproot with lateral roots emerging in a tetrarch arrangement. The size of the plant depends on soil, climate, and water conditions as well as the plant variety.
Cotton grows best in clay loam soil with a semitropical climate. A warm winter and spring is optimal, with a 6 to 7 month long growing season. It takes about 130 days from planting to boll formation.

The most widely cultivated species is Gossypium hirsutum, which originated in Central America and has been adopted by nearly all the major cotton producing countries in the world.

Read about the history of cotton
Read about cotton technology
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Introduction | Flowers&Fruit | Roots | Stems | Leaves

© Thomas L. Rost 1998
Section of Plant Biology Division of Biological Sciences