Cotton

Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. Under natural condition, the cotton balls will tend to increase the dispersion of the seeds.

The plant is a shrub native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including the Americas, Africa, and India. The greatest diversity of wild cotton species is found in Mexico, followed by Australia and Africa. Cotton was independently domesticated in the Old and New Worlds. The English name derives from the Arabic (al) qutn قُطْن, which began to be used circa 1400 AD. The Spanish word, "algodón", is likewise derived from the Arabic.

The fiber is most often spun into yarn or thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile. The use of cotton for fabric is known to date to prehistoric times; fragments of cotton fabric dated from 5000 BC have been excavated in Mexico and the Indus Valley Civilization (modern day Pakistan). Although cultivated since antiquity, it was the invention of the cotton gin that so lowered the cost of production that led to its widespread use, and it is the most widely used natural fiber cloth in clothing today.

Current estimates for world production are about 25 million tonnes annually, accounting for 2.5% of the world's arable land. China is the world's largest producer of cotton, but most of this is used domestically. The United States has been the largest exporter for many years.

Read more about Cotton:  Types of Cotton, History, Cultivation, Pests and Weeds, Harvesting, Competition From Synthetic Fibers, Uses, International Trade, Critical Temperatures, British Standard Yarn Measures, Fiber Properties, Cotton Genome

Famous quotes containing the word cotton:

    It is remarkable with what pure satisfaction the traveler in these woods will reach his camping-ground on the eve of a tempestuous night like this, as if he had got to his inn, and, rolling himself in his blanket, stretch himself on his six-feet-by-two bed of dripping fir twigs, with a thin sheet of cotton for roof, snug as a meadow-mouse in its nest.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    We are constituted a good deal like chickens, which, taken from the hen, and put in a basket of cotton in the chimney-corner, will often peep till they die, nevertheless; but if you put in a book, or anything heavy, which will press down the cotton, and feel like the hen, they go to sleep directly.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    The white American man makes the white American woman maybe not superfluous but just a little kind of decoration. Not really important to turning around the wheels of the state. Well the black American woman has never been able to feel that way. No black American man at any time in our history in the United States has been able to feel that he didn’t need that black woman right against him, shoulder to shoulder—in that cotton field, on the auction block, in the ghetto, wherever.
    Maya Angelou (b. 1928)