Seed of the Week: Thurber’s Cotton

Our mystery seeds in the “pod” were from a lovely plant called Thurber’s cotton, Gossypium thurberi.


If allowed to reach its full potential, Thurber’s cotton is a large shrub or small tree, reaching up to 15 feet tall. It is native to Arizona, and is also called Arizona or desert cotton.


Although I called it a pod not to give away the answer, this structure is actually a “boll.” If you look closely, you can see the white fuzz of “cotton” around the seeds. There usually isn’t enough fiber to bother trying to harvest it, though.


Thurber’s cotton plants have palmate leaves, mostly with three lobes. The leaves fall off in the winter.


The best part about the plant are the delicate, cupped flowers with a hint of pink.

Have you ever seen cotton growing? How does this plant compare?

Interested in finding out more?

Firefly Forest has more photographs

Check out Bug of the Week tomorrow for more about this plant.


  1. sara

    How cool! I thought the seed looked a little like Rose of Sharon, but not enough to post that. Then the flower reminded me of a Hibiscus, too. I had no idea that cotton itself was in the mallow family like Hibiscus, and had never thought to look up what the flowers or leaves look like. What a neat thing to learn this morning!

  2. Roberta

    Hello Sara,

    Yes, the Thurber’s cotton flower does looks a bit like a Hibiscus. I think it is how the anthers are arranged on the pistil.
    Glad you enjoyed the post.

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