Cotton (Gossypium herbaceum), which at the beginning of the 19th century, at the time of the Continental blockade, and again during the American War of Secession, was largely cultivated, is now grown only in parts of Sicily and in a few southern provinces.
The cultivated trees and plants of importance are, besides rubber, the manioc or cassada, the orange tree, lime, cacao, coffee, pineapple (which now runs wild over the whole of Liberia), sour sop, ginger, papaw, alligator apple, avocado pear, okro, cotton (Gossypium peruvianum - the kidney cotton), indigo, sweet potato, capsicum (chillie), bread-fruit, arrowroot (Maranta), banana, yam, "coco"-yam (Colocasia antiquorum, var.
Qutun), the most important of the vegetable fibres of the world, consisting of unicellular hairs which occur attached to the seeds of various species of plants of the genus Gossypium, belonging to the Mallow order (Malvaceae).
The genus Gossypium includes herbs and shrubs, which have been cultivated from time immemorial, and are now found widely distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of both hemispheres.
South America, the West Indies, tropical Africa and Southern Asia are the homes of the various members, but the plants have been introduced with success into other lands, as is well indicated by the fact that although no species of Gossypium is native to the United States of America, that country now produces over twothirds of the world's supply of cotton.
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