Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective case, around the seeds of the cotton plants of the genus Gossypium in the mallow family Malvaceae. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. Under natural conditions, the cotton bolls will increase the dispersal of the seeds.
The plant is a shrub native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including the Americas, Africa, Egypt 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.
The fiber is most often spun into yarn or thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile. The use of cotton for fabric is known to date to prehistoric times; fragments of cotton fabric dated to the fifth millennium BCE have been found in the Indus Valley Civilization, as well as fabric remnants dated back to 6000 BCE in Peru. Although cultivated since antiquity, it was the invention of the cotton gin that lowered the cost of production that led to its widespread use, and it is the most widely used natural fiber cloth in clothing today.
Current estimates for world production are about 25 million tonnes or 110 million bales annually, accounting for 2.5% of the world's arable land. India is the world's largest producer of cotton. The United States has been the largest exporter for many years. In the United States, cotton is usually measured in bales, which measure approximately 0.48 cubic meters (17 cubic feet) and weigh 226.8 kilograms (500 pounds).
The word "cotton" has Arabic origins, derived from the Arabic word (qutn or qutun). This was the usual word for cotton in medieval Arabic. The word entered the Romance languages in the mid-12th century, and English a century later. Cotton fabric was known to the ancient Romans as an import but cotton was rare in the Romance-speaking lands until imports from the Arabic-speaking lands in the later medieval era at transformatively lower prices.

These ordered fibres can then be passed on to other processes that are specific to the desired end use of the fibre: Cotton, batting, felt, woollen or worsted yarn, etc. Carding can also be used to create blends of different fibres or different colours. When blending, the carding process combines the different fibres into a homogeneous mix. Commercial cards also have rollers and systems designed to remove some vegetable matter contaminants from the wool.
In 1748 Lewis Paul of Birmingham, England, invented two hand driven carding machines. The first used a coat of wires on a flat table moved by foot pedals. This failed. On the second, a coat of wire slips was placed around a card which was then wrapped around a cylinder. Daniel Bourn obtained a similar patent in the same year, and probably used it in his spinning mill at Leominster, but this burnt down in 1754. The invention was later developed and improved by Richard Arkwright and Samuel Crompton. Arkwright's second patent (of 1775) for his carding machine was subsequently declared invalid (1785) because it lacked originality.
A typical cottage carder has a single large drum (the swift) accompanied by a pair of in-feed rollers (nippers), one or more pairs of worker and stripper rollers, a fancy, and a doffer. In-feed to the carder is usually accomplished by hand or by conveyor belt and often the output of the cottage carder is stored as a batt or further processed into roving and wound into bumps with an accessory bump winder. The cottage carder in the image below supports both outputs.
King Cotton

The insatiable European demand for cotton was a result of the Industrial Revolution which created the machinery and factories to process raw cotton into clothing that was better and cheaper than a handmade product. European and New England purchases soared from 720,000 bales in 1830 to 2.85 million bales in 1850, to nearly 5 million in 1860. Cotton production renewed demand for slavery after the tobacco market had declined in the late 18th century. The more cotton was grown, the more slaves were needed to harvest the crops. By 1860, on the eve of the American Civil War, cotton accounted for almost 60% of American exports, representing a total value of nearly $200 million a year.
Madapollam is a soft cotton fabric manufactured from fine yarns with a dense pick laid out in linen weave. Madapollam is used as an embroidery and handkerchief fabric and as a base for fabric printing. The equal warp and weft mean that the tensile strength and shrinkage is the same in any two directions at right angles and that the fabric absorbs liquids such as ink, paint and aircraft dope equally along its X and Y axes.
The cloth takes its name from the eponymous village near Narsapur, West Godavari, Andhra Pradesh, India, where the East India Company had a cloth factory.
Ceiba pentandra is a tropical tree of the order Malvales and the family Malvaceae (previously separated in the family Bombacaceae), native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, northern South America, and (as the variety C. pentandra var. guineensis) to tropical west Africa. A somewhat smaller variety is found throughout southern Asia and the East Indies. Kapok is a name used in English speaking countries for both the tree and the cotton-like fluff obtained from its seed pods. In Spanish speaking countries the tree is commonly known as "ceiba". The tree is cultivated for the seed fibre, particularly in south-east Asia, and is also known as the Java cotton, Java kapok, silk-cotton, samauma, or ceiba.
The tree grows to 240 ft (73 m), as confirmed by climbing and tape drop with reports of Kapoks up to 252 feet (77 meters). Trunks can often be up to 3 m (9.8 ft) in diameter above the extensive buttress roots. The very largest individuals, however, can be 19 feet (5.8 meters) thick or more above the buttresses.
The flowers are an important source of nectar and pollen for honey bees and bats.