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ative Photo: Tabish
Common name: Cotton • Hindi: Kapas कपास • Kannada: ಹತ್ತಿ Hatti, ಪತ್ತಿ Patti, ಪರ್ತಿ Parti, ಪೞ್ತಿ Pazhti, Palti • Kodava: ಪರ್ತಿ Parti • Tulu: ಪರ್ತಿ, Parti • Tamil: பருத்தி parutthi • Nepali: रुख कपास Rukh kapas • Mizo: La
Botanical name: Gossypium arboreum    Family: Malvaceae (Mallow family)

Native to Northwest India and Pakistan and as far back as 2000 BC it was being used by the Harappan civilization of the Indus Valley in the production of cotton textiles. Some cultivars are tall perennial shrubs, others short annuals. One of the perennial cultivars was introduced to East Africa and 2000 years ago was being grown by the Meroe people of Nubia who are considered to be the first cotton weavers in Africa. This variety of cotton was spread to other parts of Africa including Kano in Nigeria which from the 9th century became a cotton manufacturing centre. In the wild cotton shrubs can grow up to 10 ft high. The leaves are broad and have three to five or even seven lobes. Flowers are short-stalked. False sepals are large ovate, nearly entire or toothed, heart-shaped at base, long-pointed at tip. Sepal-cup is small, about 5 mm long, cup-shaped, somewhat 5-toothed. Flowers are pale yellow with or without purple centre, and sometimes entirely purple, 3-4 cm long. Stamen-tube is 1.5-2 cm long. The capsule, called a boll, is 1.5-2.5 cm across, ovoid or oblong, beaked, glabrous, pitted, 3-4-celled. Each seed is surrounded by a downy fibre called lint.

Identification credit: Tabish Photographed in Almorha, Uttarakhand and Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh.

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