These wild cotton plants grow in my backyard. During the rainy season they are quite lush and green with big, broad leaves, the shape of maple leaves. Their blooms are also big and broad, pale yellow in color with a light, pink blush at the edges of the petals and are attractive to butterflies. The plant itself is the larval host plant for gray hairstreak butterflies.
I’m having a bit of a conundrum about the current legal statusof these plants. Apparently you are not able to propagate cotton legally in Florida anymore due to protections against the boll weevil, but at the same time, you are not able to destroy it when it is growing on your property because it is listed as an endangered native. For the time being, we are tending the plants already growing in our backyard and doing our part not to share seeds or seedlings.
Recently, a friend who knits and is teaching herself to spin fiber into yarn was visiting and saw all the cotton bolls on my plants just hanging there, heavy on the branches. She asked if we ever used the cotton for anything and I told her that the kids have made some pillows and used it as stuffing, but that’s about it. She asked for a mess of the cotton so that she could try her hand at spinning. We gave her a pound or so of raw cotton fiber and she was able to create the beautiful yarn pictured here.
She has promised to learn the fine art of dying cotton fiber (apparently it is different than dying the animal fiber she usually works with) and once she does, she’ll teach the boys and me!
Since we do not use any pesticides or chemical fertilizers in our yard, this cotton is grown in the most all natural way as possible! I don’t think I’m allowed to claim it’s organic unless I pay lots of money to complete a certification process, lol. Either way, we think it’s quite cool to see the cotton fiber go to such a good use! Sustainability at its best!