It is now ILLEGAL to grow wild cotton in Florida (see commments below).
Medium to large shrub with wide-spreading branches and a broadly rounded crown. Leaves lobed, 2-6 inches long.
About 6-12 feet in height. As broad as tall or broader.
Monroe County Keys north to Palm Beach and Pinellas counties; West Indies, Mexico, Central America and South America. Perhaps never present or extirpated in Broward County.
Coastal hammocks and thickets.
Moist, well-drained limestone or sandy soils, with or without humusy top layer.
Moderate; can grow in nutrient poor soils, but needs some organic content to thrive.
Salt Water Tolerance:
Low; does not tolerate long-term flooding by salt or brackish water.
Salt Wind Tolerance:
Moderate; grows near salt water, but is protected from direct salt spray by other vegetation.
Moderate to high; plants growing in extremely dry soils may die during extended periods of drought.
Full sun to light shade.
Creamy white to pale yellow, usually with a red spot at the base of the petals, turning dark pink with age.
Showy, about 1-2" wide.
Triangular capsule that opens exposing cotton seed covering.
Wildlife and Ecology:
Larval host plant for gray hairstreak (Strymon melinus) butterflies.
Can be grown from seed.
It is related to commercial cotton, and the USDA attempted to wipe this plant out in Florida in the early 1900s due to the fact that it is a potential host to the boll weevil. It is now illegal to grow wild cotton in Florida for this reason. It is also listed as endangered by the state of Florida.
Jennifer Possley, 2016 Boca Grande Key, Monroe County, Florida, USA, Enlarge
Gann, G.D., M.E. Abdo, J.W. Gann, G.D. Gann, Sr., S.W.
Woodmansee, K.A. Bradley, E. Grahl and K.N. Hines. 2005-2016. Natives For Your Neighborhood. http://www.regionalconservation.org.
The Institute for Regional Conservation. Delray Beach, Florida USA.