Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Friday, July 13, 2012

What was the mystery plant? The big reveal

I posted this photo on Wednesday and did get two correct guesses (from Madeline and Kristina).  The mystery plant used to be an important agricultural plant in the south and has great cultural and historical significance. It was tied in with the slavery system in the south and was a source of wealth for southern planters until the Civil War. The United States is still the largest exporter of it.  The plant, which is not to blame for this history, is Gossypium, in this case, G. herbaceum, not the exact same species grown in the south (these were G.hirsutum and G. barbadense ), but close enough.  It is cotton. Gossypium was nicknamed "vegetable lamb" (for the resemblance of the bolls to sheep's wool).  The fibers of cotton are almost pure cellulose, and lends itself to producing a strong, lightweight fabric.  It is a member of the family Malvaceae, which also includes hibiscus, which the flower resembles.  I will be posting photos of the bolls when (and if) they develop, plus let you know what I will be doing with the cotton.

Happy gardening!

1 comment:

Anita said...

I actually Googled the cotton plant to see what it looks like and then decided, "No." Ha!