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Cotton - Gossypium Spp

Cotton  ( Gossypium Spp )

Description
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 conditions, the cotton bolls 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.

There are four commercially grown species of cotton, all domesticated in antiquity:

  • Gossypium hirsutum – upland cotton, native to Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean and southern Florida, (90% of world production).
  • Gossypium barbadense – known as extra-long staple cotton, native to tropical South America (8% of world production).
  • Gossypium arboreum – tree cotton, native to India and Pakistan (less than 2%).
  • Gossypium herbaceum – Levant cotton, native to southern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula (less than 2%).


The two New World cotton species account for the vast majority of modern cotton production, but the two Old World species were widely used before the 1900s. While cotton fibers occur naturally in colors of white, brown, pink and green, fears of contaminating the genetics of white cotton have led many cotton-growing locations to ban the growing of colored cotton varieties, which remain a specialty product.

Uses
Cotton is used to make a number of textile products. These include terrycloth for highly absorbent bath towels and robes; denim for blue jeans; cambric, popularly used in the manufacture of blue work shirts (from which we get the term "blue-collar"); and corduroy, seersucker, and cotton twill. Socks, underwear, and most T-shirts are made from cotton. Bed sheets often are made from cotton. Cotton also is used to make yarn used in crochet and knitting. Fabric also can be made from recycled or recovered cotton that otherwise would be thrown away during the spinning, weaving, or cutting process. While many fabrics are made completely of cotton, some materials blend cotton with other fibers, including rayon and synthetic fibers such as polyester. It can either be used in knitted or woven fabrics, as it can be blended with elastine to make a stretchier thread for knitted fabrics, and apparel such as stretch jeans.

In addition to the textile industry, cotton is used in fishing nets, coffee filters, tents, explosives manufacture (see nitrocellulose), cotton paper, and in bookbinding. The first Chinese paper was made of cotton fiber. Fire hoses were once made of cotton.

The cottonseed which remains after the cotton is ginned is used to produce cottonseed oil, which, after refining, can be consumed by humans like any other vegetable oil. The cottonseed meal that is left generally is fed to ruminant livestock; the gossypol remaining in the meal is toxic to monogastric animals. Cottonseed hulls can be added to dairy cattle rations for roughage. During the American slavery period, cotton root bark was used in folk remedies as an abortifacient, that is, to induce a miscarriage.

Cotton linters are fine, silky fibers which adhere to the seeds of the cotton plant after ginning. These curly fibers typically are less than 1/8 in (3 mm) long. The term also may apply to the longer textile fiber staple lint as well as the shorter fuzzy fibers from some upland species. Linters are traditionally used in the manufacture of paper and as a raw material in the manufacture of cellulose. In the UK, linters are referred to as "cotton wool". This can also be a refined product (absorbent cotton in U.S. usage) which has medical, cosmetic and many other practical uses. The first medical use of cotton wool was by Dr. Joseph Sampson Gamgee at the Queen's Hospital (later the General Hospital) in Birmingham, England.

Shiny cotton is a processed version of the fiber that can be made into cloth resembling satin for shirts and suits. However, it is hydrophobic (does not absorb water easily), which makes it unfit for use in bath and dish towels.


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