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Introduction to Cotton Flowers

The stunning, albeit, uncommon cotton flower is not a flower at all. Cotton flowers are more like dandelions which hold in them the seeds of the cotton plant. Once they ‘bloom’, the cotton flies away, giving the impression that they are all running after each other. Perhaps this is where the cotton flower meaning of separation and cherishing one another, comes from. Not only that, Cotton flower also is a favored gift to symbolize marriage.

Scientific Roots

Known as Gossypium, the cotton plant is part of the Mallow family. The name is a derivative of the Arabic word ‘Goz’, which means ‘a soft substance’. The word ‘Cotton’ also has Arabic origins, and comes from the word ‘Quton’ or ‘Kutun’ which means ‘fancy fabric’. Gossypium or cotton plant is indigenous to tropical and subtropical regions both in the modern world and in the Ancient days. Today, cotton is one of the world’s leading agricultural crops. This is because cotton is the primary natural fiber used by humans today and about 80% of the world production of natural fibers is incredibly-cotton. In tropical climates, the plant grows up to be treelike- growing up to 20ft (6.1 m) high and perennial. However, when cultivated, it is a short, shrubby plant growing only around -6 ft (1.83 m) high.

History of the Cotton Flower

The Cotton plant is one of rather exotic origins. In fact, the Indus Valley Civilization grew and spun cotton in 3000BC. Ancient Egyptians living by the Nile wore cotton clothing as well. Eventually, the Arabs brought the plant to Europe around 800 AD via Spain and Sicily. It is here that the name ‘muslin’ came into existence.

When Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492, he found the plant growing on the Bahama Islands. By the 1500s, cotton was well known around the world. The cotton plant has been domesticated independently many times in different cultures.

However, none can pinpoint how old Cotton truly is. Scientists recently found bits of cotton bolls and pieces of cotton cloth in caves in Mexico.These were found to be at least 7,000 years old. Funnily enough, the cotton that was found was also very close in type to the cotton grown in Modern day America.

·        Modern day

Today, though Egyptian cotton remains well-sought after, these plants are now grown in almost all over the world. They mainly grow in tropical and subtropical areas such as the U.S., China, India, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Brazil, and Turkey. The USA is the largest producer of Cotton, followed by India and China. Within the United States, Texas is the largest cotton producer. The South Plains region situated in the northern part of Texas is the largest cotton-growing area in the world.

 Cultural Cotton flower meaning

The cotton flower meanings tend to change from culture to culture, however, the idea of prosperity as well as family, tends to be found often. Well-being and Wealth are also associated with the Cotton Flower across cultures. Here are some of those meanings from across the world:

·        Korea cotton flower meaning

In Korea, birth dates are connected with particular flowers and there meaning. In Korean culture, one of the most common meaning of the cotton flower is the Love of your Mother. The flower also symbolizes all that is excellent or superb.

·        USA Cotton flower meaning

In the USA, some people think of the cotton flower as a perfect symbol of a marriage that has stood the test of time for a few years. Cotton is malleable, soft, and yet incredibly strong. It is seen as a symbol of what a marriage is supposed to be like. Like the cotton flower, marriages must be full of love and yet should be able to go through a whole host of changes. It also symbolizes the urge to follow one another no matter what.

·        Native American Cotton flower meaning

In older Native American traditions, the cotton flower meanings tend towards magic. The cotton flower is seen as a symbol of luck, Healing, and Protection. Not surprisingly, these meaning are extended to the lives the Native Americans lived. Since cotton requires a very particular rainfall pattern, the Native Americans also associate the plant with Rain and eventually Fishing Magic.

·        Indian cotton flower meaning

In India, for the 19th century Mystic Sri Aurobindo, the Cotton flower meaning relates to success in the material world. His metaphysical symbolism of the plant is defined as “the most material vital”. He explains that the flower is a symbol of the physical body. Thus, the flower becomes a symbol for the power of life, growth, and movement. The plant also symbolizes sensitivity to outside impacts. However, according to him, the cotton flower meaning of life and growth means nothing unless offered to the Divine with these meanings in mind.

Cotton flower meaning in Dreams

It is not very common to see cotton flowers and plants in dreams. However, if it does turn up, the symbolism is extremely positive. It is said that it is a sign of spiritual awakening. The cotton flower tends to burst open when it’s ripe. Which is why, it stands as a symbol of awakening and opening forth to a new world. It is also said to be a symbol of well-being and financial security. This idea possibly harks back to a time in history when cultivating cotton was a lucrative business and was indeed, the source of financial security for many, all over the world.

However, many also see this as a symbol not of material wealth, but blessings from the Divine. Spiritually, it is supposed to be a good time to count your blessings and be thankful for the coming rewards. The only time it is not favorable to see the cotton flower in your dreams is if they are dirty. This is an indication that things aren’t quite right in life. The cotton flower meaning here is a time when intelligence and caution must be employed.

Cotton Flower meanings in Literature

English literature often uses the symbolism of the cotton flower to talk about pastoral peace, simple times, and prosperous ages. Walt Whitman mentions the ‘yellow-flower’d cotton plant’ in his famous poem titled ‘Song of myself’. He draws up a rather large catalog of images, and the cotton flower turns up to describe a haven. It is a haven where the animals go along their various tasks, and even the rattlesnake basks in the suns. In this haven, the sugarcane grow as do the cotton flowers. This is in stark contrast to the “sharp-peak’d farmhouse” with its gutters and scum. So for Whitman too, the cotton flowers meaning seems the same as we have seen throughout. For him too, the cotton flower meaning of beauty, divinity, and all that is excellent in nature stands.

Another well-known poem that talks about the plant is “November Cotton-flower” by American Poet and Novelist Jean Toomer. In this poem, the cotton flower growing in a season when it shouldn’t, works as a symbol of falsehood, scarcity and death of the natural world.

Toomer explores the trouble of the symbolism of the cotton-flower changing during his age. For him, it was a sign of southern natural beauty. However, due to the political changes during his time, he finds this pastoral haven transformed into a space of political and racial contention. His imagery of the cotton flower is haunting, surreal.

However, there is a realization of the objectification of symbols. Some critics think that in this poem, the innocent beauty of the November Cotton flower no longer remains ‘innocent’ when contextualized into History.

However, ultimately, the November cotton stands in for the sudden, surprising ray of hope for the downtrodden. Though it may have lost its ‘pastoral innocence’, it becomes a symbol of powerful prosperity and well-being.

Perhaps the most interesting stories of the cotton flower comes from Sir John Manville. Him, and other medieval writers wrote about a miraculous plant that was a hybrid between an animal and plant. They thought of the cotton flower as a cross between lambs and plants. Though this sold a lot of travel books, perhaps clinching the market for travel literature, this was far from the truth. Cotton flowers as we have seen, existed and were in use far before Sir John Manville came into existence. The Romans spun and wore cotton clothes, the Ancient Indians grew cotton and so did the ancient Egyptians.

·        Songs

There are many songs about cotton praising the simple life. However, the numbers reduce to a handful when talking about the cotton flower. However, the cotton flower meanings remain more or less the same. Songs written in the modern day and age, all still talk about the simple life. The memories of basking in the sun, well-being, and a simple farm life still attach themselves to the little flower.

The song “Rather Comely” released 2020, illustrates this as none other. Cotton flowers drifting past are described as ‘angelic delight’. The flowers are, predictably, seen on a little road by a brook: all images that hark back to pastoral peace.

Silence 4’s ‘Ceilings’ sees cotton flowers blossoming, as a symbol of hope and well-being amidst the surrounding darkness.

Tanya tucker’s ‘I Believe The South Is Gonna rise again’, is reminiscent of Toomer’s poem. She writes about the cotton flower as a symbol of the tired old south. Her hope is that happier times when everybody works hand in hand, is not far off.

Colors of Cotton flower

When pollinated, cotton blossoms all fill with the white bolls everyone is familiar with. However, there are some ornamental variations of the plant that are absolute showstoppers.

·        Mexican cotton

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Also known as Gossypium Hirsutum or upland cotton, this type is the most commonly planted cotton species. This plant has light pink or snow-white blooms which look striking amidst the bright green leaves. The white flower tends to have a burgundy print at the center, creating a stunning contrast. Interestingly enough, this variety is also used to produce linseed oil.

·        Black Cotton

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Unlike what the name suggests, the cotton harvested from this plant is still white. The leaves however, are a striking black or dark purple leaves. This plant is also called Levant cotton and are found in sub-Saharan Africa and Arabia. It naturally grows in the wild as a perennial shrub. The flowers grown on this are either hot pink or a deep burgundy, and no doubt create a stunning contrast.

·        Gossypium Darwinii

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Interestingly enough, this plant is called ‘Darwin’s cousin’. They are a rather rare find, since they tend to grow only on the Galapagos Islands. The flower is a beautiful bright yellow bloom, with a contrasting burgundy and orange center.

The Best Time to Gift Cotton Flowers

The cotton flower meaning of overall well-being persists to the modern day and age. It only makes sense that the cotton flower is a great addition to a bouquet when you want to wish someone well. Since it is not only the blooms that are beautiful, the stunning foliage of the plants can be used to create a beautiful arrangement.

In the USA, some people gift cotton flowers on the 2nd wedding anniversary. As a gift, it means that the gift giver cherishes the presence of their partner in their life. It also stands in a symbol of what marriage is meant to be like: soft, supple, and yet hard enough to weather a million changes to their way of being.

Cotton flowers can be a great gift on Mother’s Day, as it symbolizes the beauty and softness of maternal love. In fact, in Korean dramas, they do pop up as a symbol of learning about family, and becoming more loving.

Overall, they are the perfect gift for when you want to show appreciation for someone you love. Cotton flowers stand for cherishing those in your life. So anytime you need to show someone that you think the world of them, gift them some Cotton flowers.