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. The genus is indigenous to both hemispheres, and the plants are now cultivated all over the world within the limits of 36° north and south of the equator. All the species are perennial and become somewhat shrubby, but in cultivation they are usually treated as annuals. They have alternate stalked and lobed leaves, large yellow flowers, becoming reddish on the second day, and a three- or five-celled capsule, which bursts open when ripe through the middle of the cells, liberating the numerous black seeds covered with the beautiful filamentous cotton. The species yielding the cotton of commerce are: G. Barbadense, known as sea-island cotton, with a fine, soft, silky staple nearly two inches long; G. herbaceum, yielding the upland or short-staple cotton of the United States; and G. arboreum. Many varieties of these species are known. The kidney, Peruvian, Brazil, and Bahia cottons of commerce are all produced by varieties of G. Barbadense. Nankin cotton is a naturally colored variety. Cotton-seed, after the removal of the fiber, yields upon pressure a large amount of yellow oil, with a bland, nut-like taste, closely resembling olive-oil, as a substitute or adulterant for which it is largely used. The residue after the extraction of the oil, called
cotton-cake, is valuable as food for cattle and as a manure. The bark of the root is used in medicine, acting upon the uterine system in the same manner as ergot. Also called cotton-shrub.
- 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.
“St. Paul, the southern cotton-plant, which (while the seed had not been planted by ten days as early as it might have been in the spring) was in bloom in August, and by September it had begun to boll, and another fortnight would have easily matured portions of the same.”
“If, however, the cotton-plant, like Indian corn and the tomato, can be gradually induced to mature itself in four or five months, the consequences of such a change can hardly be estimated.”
“-- That, Mr. Reader, is the great cotton-plant, Sir Robert Peel; and at this moment he has, in his own conceit, seized upon "the white wonder" of Victoria's hand, and is kissing it with Saint James's devotion.”
“The fomenting of wars, whereby captives may be secured, may well be superseded by the culture of the coffee-tree and the cotton-plant.”
“Oh, little loom of the cotton-plant, poet that can show us the sky, painter that paints it, artisan that reaches out, and, from the skein of a sunbeam, the loom of the air and the white of its own soul, weaves the cloth that clothes the world!”
“O voice of the cotton-plant, do we need to go to oracles or listen for a diviner voice than yours when thus you tell us: Pluck?”
“A downy or woolly substance, enclosed in the pod, or seed-vessel, of the cotton-plant.”
A Catechism of Familiar Things; Their History, and the Events Which Led to Their Discovery. With a Short Explanation of Some of the Principal Natural Phenomena. For the Use of Schools and Families. Enlarged and Revised Edition.
“The cotton-plant, although indigenous in India, has also been found growing spontaneously in many parts of Africa.”
“The cotton-plant was observed by the Greeks who accompanied Alexander in his march to India: and his officers have left a description of the cotton dress and turban which formed the costume of the natives at that remote period.”
“Among these spots none is more promising than Central America, where the cotton-plant is perennial, and a single acre, as we are assured by Mr. Squier, yields semiannually a bale of superior cotton.”
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