Cotton – Gossypium hisutum

Upland Cotton boll

Upland Cotton boll

Boll-weevil’s coming,

And the winter’s cold,
Made cotton-stalks look rusty,

seasons old, and cotton,

Scarce as any southern snow…

by Jean Toomer

Archeological evidence from the Tehuacan Valley in Mexico shows the cultivation of this species as long as 8,000 years ago. This is the earliest evidence of cotton cultivation in the Americas, found thus far. 90% of all cotton production in the world today is this species.

During the American slavery period, cotton root bark was used in a folk remedy as an abortifacient (to provoke abortion). The root bark was used to treat many female ailments during that time period. From lack of menstruation to inducing labor, but it was not just a woman’s herb. Chewing the root is said to have stimulated the sexual organs and acted as an aphrodisiac. It was also used for treatment of snakebite, dysentery (diarrhea containing mucous or blood), and fever.

The seeds were once considered a food product and a remedy. The oil was used as any other vegetable oil, and in emulsion form given intravenously to people with nutritional deficiencies. The people of the Levant (the eastern Mediterranean area: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine) still use the seeds as food.

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