Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Gossypium barbadense
(Gallini cotton)



Gossypium barbadense (Gallini cotton)


  • Last modified
  • 22 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Gossypium barbadense
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Gallini cotton
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Gossypium barbadense L.

Preferred Common Name

  • Gallini cotton

Other Scientific Names

  • Gosspyium evertum O. F. Cook & J. Hubb
  • Gossypium acuminatum
  • Gossypium brasiliense
  • Gossypium peruvianum Cav.
  • Gossypium vitifolium Lam.

International Common Names

  • English: American Egyptian cotton; Brazilian cotton; cotton, long staple; cotton, Sea Island; Egyptian cotton; kidney cotton; long staple cotton; Peruvian cotton; pima cotton; Sea Island cotton
  • Spanish: algodonero de las Barbados
  • French: coton a longue soie; coton des Indes Occidentales; cotonnier d'Egypte

Local Common Names

  • Cuba: algodón; algodón criollo
  • Germany: Westindische Baumwolle

EPPO code

  • GOSBA (Gossypium barbadense)
  • GOSVV (Gossypium vitifolium)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Malvales
  •                         Family: Malvaceae
  •                             Genus: Gossypium
  •                                 Species: Gossypium barbadense

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page The cultivated cottons are found in four of the Gossypium species: these are the diploid Old World cottons G. arboreum and G. herbaceum, and the tetraploid New World cottons G. hirsutum and G. barbadense.

Several subdivisions of G. hirsutum have been proposed, especially into varieties, but these differ to such an extent that they are not presented here.

- G. arboreum: the flowers are yellow with a purplish base and a coarsely pitted, tapering capsule. It originates from Asia.

- G. barbadense: sea-island cotton. It has initially yellow, later pink, flowers with a basal reddish spot and a coarsely pitted capsule. It originates from tropical South America.

- G. herbaceum: has yellow flowers with a purplish base and a smooth, rounded capsule. It probably originates from eastern Africa.

Commercial cottons can be classified by lint length:

- very short staple <16 mm), typically from cultivars of G. herbaceum and G. arboreum, known collectively as 'desi' cottons, rain-grown;

- short staple (16-24 mm), ditto;

- medium staple (25-28 mm), mainly from upland cultivars of G. hirsutum, mainly rain-grown;

- long staple (29-33 mm), from long-stapled upland cultivars and cultivars of G. barbadense, rain-grown or under irrigation;

- extra-long staple (>35 mm), from cultivars of G. barbadense, grown under irrigation.

The very drought-hardy 'desi' cottons are still grown for local, coarse cloth and for seed oil, but on the whole these are an insignificant crop found in drier areas.


Top of page A perennial shrub, usually cultivated as an annual subshrub, 1-1.5 (-3) m high. Tap root robust, often with four rows of lateral roots. Main stem monopodial with internodes decreasing in length from the base to the top; nodes bearing leaves with axillary branches. Leaves spirally arranged, long-petiolate; lamina usually 3-5-lobed, 7.5-15 x 7.5-15 cm, cordate at base and with triangular and acuminate lobes, usually with stellate hairs and glands on undersurface of main veins; stipules present but caducous, falcate, ca 10 x 4 mm.

Flowers solitary on axillary, sympodial branches, seemingly opposite the leaves, stalked with three glands near the top of the pedicel; epicalyx consisting of 3 (-4) large toothed segments; calyx small, cup-shaped, obscurely lobed; petals 5, obovate, ca 5 cm long, initially creamy-white and turning pink or red; stamens numerous, filaments united in a staminal column; ovary superior, style inside staminal tube, stigma lobed. Fruit a leathery, spherical or ovoid capsule, 2-6 cm long, (3-) 4-5-locular with numerous seeds. Seeds pear-shaped, 3.5-5 mm long; testa with short and very long, convoluted hairs.


Top of page The wild species of Gossypium occur in arid regions of the tropics and subtropics. G. hirsutum L. (upland cotton) probably occurs wild in north-eastern Brazil.

Seed of upland cotton ('latifolium') was taken by the Spaniards to the USA from a comparatively small area in Mexico about AD 1700. It has been introduced successfully into the tropics, subtropics and warm temperate regions of the world. G. hirsutum is the major industrial cotton, which began as a Peruvian coastal hybrid between G. arboreum L. (carried across the Bering Sea) and G. raimondii Ulbr. The wild form of G. herbaceum race africanum may be the common ancestor of modern cottons, and still grows wild in the hot dry savannah of southern Africa.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes


IndiaPresentCABI Data Mining (Undated)

North America

CubaPresentIntroducedInvasiveOviedo Prieto et al. (2012)
United StatesPresentCABI Data Mining (Undated)
-ArizonaPresentCABI Data Mining (Undated)

Habitat List

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Biology and Ecology

Top of page Growth and Development

Depending on cultivar and climate, the growth period ranges from 160 to 220 days. Normally the crop stands on the field for 6 months. The hypocotyl appears above the ground 4-10 days after sowing. Cotton remains unbranched until at least 1 month after planting. Branching is dimorphic. The main-stem apex initiates main-stem leaves and lateral buds in the axils of these leaves. Normally only one bud develops. At lower nodes the true axillary bud remains vegetative and may develop into a vegetative branch (monopodium), replicating the main stem and carried at an acute angle. After floral induction the extra-axillary buds at subsequent main-stem nodes are reproductive and develop into horizontal fruiting branches (sympodia). The fruiting branches usually appear between the fourth and the ninth main-stem nodes in upland cultivars. A sympodial apex initiates one true leaf and then transforms into a flower primordium. The axillary bud between the flower bud and the leaf continues growth of the branch, producing a further segment, which in turn also terminates with a flower bud and a leaf which has an axillary bud. The development of successive axillary buds along a branch may be repeated, leading to a typical zigzag structure. A visible flower bud is called a 'square', whilst developing fruit are termed 'bolls. In upland cotton, 0-4 vegetative branches are formed, which in turn may carry secondary sympodia. The main stem does not carry flowers.

Flowering starts about 8 weeks after planting and normally continues for 6 weeks or more, but under optimum conditions the bulk of the crop is derived from the first 3-4 weeks of flowering. The time taken from flowering to the opening of the boll is about 8 weeks. Fibres reach their full, genetically determined length during the first 4 weeks and then cellulose is deposited inside the fibre cell during the next 4 weeks until maturity.


Cotton performs best in desert climates, under irrigation. Commercial cotton production now extends from 37°N to 32°S in the New World, and from 47°N (in the Ukraine) to 30°S in the Old World. It grows on lowland below 1000 m. The optimum temperature for germination is 34°C, for the growth of seedlings 24-29°C, and for later continuous growth 34°C. Low temperature increases the production of vegetative branches and extends the cropping period. Cotton is susceptible to frost. High temperature increases the number of fruiting branches and reduces the cropping period. Cotton is a sun-loving plant and cannot tolerate shade, particularly in the seedling stage. Reduced light intensity, due to prolonged overcast weather, shading from interplanted crops or too dense a stand of cotton, retards flowering and fruiting and increases boll shedding. Shedding of over 50% of squares, flowers or young bolls, due to early bollworm, drought or waterlogging, is normal. Upland cottons are day-neutral.

The crop will not tolerate very heavy rainfall and, where grown as a rain-fed crop, the average rainfall is usually 800-1200 mm. Modern cotton cultivars have some ability to overcome drought, and recover from a dry spell to resume growth and fruiting. Adequate, but not excessive, moisture is required for early vegetative growth. The first flowering period requires relative dryness to speed up formation of fruiting branches. An increase in moisture is required for boll setting and renewed growth, followed by dry weather for ripening and harvest. Sufficient soil moisture is essential during the flowering period.

Cotton can be grown on a variety of soils from light sandy soils to heavy alluvium and rendzina-type clays. Soils must be permeable to water and to roots to a depth of at least 100 cm, preferably over 150 cm, with pH 5.5-8.5. Cotton is one of the more salt-tolerant crops.


Top of page Cotton lint is the most important and versatile vegetable fibre in the world today and is woven into fabrics, either alone or combined with other fibres. The invention and the development of the saw gin and the development of the factory system, together with the ease of production and adaptability to machine manufacture, caused a rapid expansion in the use of cotton. Although the bulk is used for textile manufacture, cotton also supplies yarn, cordage, twine and tyre cord. The seeds yield a semi-drying edible oil which is used in lard substitutes (shortening), as salad and cooking oil, and in margarine manufacture. Low-grade oil is used in the manufacture of soap, lubricants, sulphonated oils and protective coatings. The residual seed cake, decorticated or undecorticated, is an important protein concentrate for livestock. Low-grade cake is used as manure. The whole seed may also be used as cattle feed. Cotton seed hulls are used as roughage for livestock and as bedding and fuel. Dry stalks are excellent as household fuel. The fuzz from seed delinting after ginning is used in upholstery, felt, paper and explosives.

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed

Human food and beverage

  • Oil/fat


  • Fibre
  • Poisonous to mammals

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore


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Oviedo Prieto R; Herrera Oliver P; Caluff MG, et al. , 2012. National list of invasive and potentially invasive plants in the Republic of Cuba - 2011. (Lista nacional de especies de plantas invasoras y potencialmente invasoras en la República de Cuba - 2011). Bissea: Boletín sobre Conservación de Plantas del Jardín Botánico Nacional de Cuba, 6(Special Issue 1):22-96.

Distribution Maps

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