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  • Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium in the family of Malvaceae. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. Under natural conditions, the cotton bolls will tend to increase the dispersion of the seeds. The plant is a shrub native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including the Americas, Africa, and India. The greatest diversity of wild cotton species is found in Mexico, followed by Australia and Africa. Cotton was independently domesticated in the Old and New Worlds. The English name derives from the Arabic quṭn قُطْن, which began to be used circa 1400 AD. The Spanish word, "algodón", is likewise derived from the Arabic. The fiber is most often spun into yarn or thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile. The use of cotton for fabric is known to date to prehistoric times; fragments of cotton fabric dated from 5000 BC have been excavated in Mexico and the Indus Valley Civilization.

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