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Steven R. Hill, except as noted

Annual to tree; generally with stellate hairs, often with bristles or peltate scales; juice generally mucilage-like; bark fibrous. Leaf: generally cauline, alternate, petioled, simple [palmate-compound], generally palmate-lobed and/or veined, generally toothed, evergreen or not; stipules persistent or not. Inflorescence: head, spike, raceme, or panicle, in panicle or not (a compound panicle), or flowers >= 1 in leaf axils, or flowers generally 1 opposite a leaf or on a spur; bracts leaf-like or not; bractlets 0 or on flowering stalks, often closely subtending calyx, generally in involucel. Flower: generally bisexual, radial; sepals 5, generally fused at base, abutting in bud, larger in fruit or not, nectaries as tufts of glandular hairs at base; petals (0)5, free from each other but generally fused at base to, falling with filament tube, clawed or not; stamens 5–many, filaments fused for most of length into tube around style, staminodes 5, alternate stamens, or generally 0; pistil 1, ovary superior, stalked or generally not, chambers generally >= 5, styles or style branches, stigmas generally 1 or 1–2 × chamber number. Fruit: loculicidal capsule, [berry], or 5–many, disk- or wedge-shaped segments (= mericarps).
266 genera, 4025 species: worldwide, especially warm regions; some cultivated (e.g., Abelmoschus okra; Alcea hollyhock; Gossypium cotton; Hibiscus hibiscus). [Angiosperm Phylogeny Group 1998 Ann Missouri Bot Gard 85:531–553] Recently treated to include Bombacaceae, Sterculiaceae, Tiliaceae. Mature fruit needed for identification; "outer edges" are surfaces between sides and back (abaxial surface) of segment. "Flower stalk" used instead of "pedicel," "peduncle," especially where both needed (i.e., when flowers both 1 in leaf axils and otherwise). —Scientific Editors: Steven R. Hill, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Unabridged references: [Alverson et al. 1999 Amer J Bot 86:1474–1486; Bayer et al. 1999 Bot J Linn Soc 129:267–303; Hill 2009 Madroño 56:104–111]

Key to Malvaceae


Paul A. Fryxell

Annual to perennial herb, [subshrub to tree], ± gland-dotted. Stem: erect, stellate-hairy to glabrous. Leaf: petioled; blades ovate, palmate-lobed or -parted, entire; generally not much reduced above; stipules prominent or not. Inflorescence: flowers 1 in leaf axils or few clustered on axillary short-shoots; flowering stalks generally < flowers; bractlets 3, conspicuous, green, leaf-like, cordate, generally irregularly toothed or fringed, enclosing flower in bud, persisting in fruit. Flower: calyx fused, tip truncate or 5-toothed; petals cream, yellow, or rose, often with dark spot at base, showy; filament tube 5-toothed at top, anthers scattered entire length; style 1, generally >= filament tube, stigma lobes 3–5, decurrent, generally short or obscure. Fruit: capsule, loculicidal, ovoid, 3–5-chambered, glabrous, generally prominently gland-dotted. Seed: generally > 5 mm, obovoid, angled, generally densely long-hairy [(subglabrous)], hairs generally white [tan].
40 species: tropics, subtropics, most Africa, Middle East, Australia, America. (Greek: cotton; or Arabic: a soft substance)
Unabridged etymology: (Greek: gossypion, cotton; or Arabic: goz or gothn, a soft substance)
[Fryxell 1979 Natural History Cotton Tribe. TAMU Press; Fryxell 1988 Syst Bot Monogr 25:159–178] Gossypium armourianum Kearney (bractlets strap-shaped vs widely cordate-ovate in Gossypium hirsutum), reportedly naturalized in California, in fact only persisting (albeit for at least 70 years) after plantings, and showing "little likelihood of spreading or becoming invasive" (Paul Fryxell, pers. comm.).

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Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2013. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Nov 28 2015
Citation for this treatment: [Author of taxon treatment] 2013. Gossypium, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Nov 28 2015

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