In nature, G. hirsutum and G. barbadense are perennial shrubs. However, in the agricultural system both species are cultivated as annuals, with destruction of plants after harvesting the fruit for seed and fibre. The plants are mainly grown for their fibre, cotton lint, which is used in textiles and clothing.
G. barbadense L. was named after its assumed habitat of Barbados . It has been known by alternative scientific names as Gossypium evertum , Gossypium peruvianum , Gossypium vitifolium and Gossypium brasiliense ( USDA 2006). It is commonly known as Creole cotton, Egyptian cotton, extra long-staple or ELS cotton, Indian cotton, Sea Island cotton or [[w:Pima cotton|Pima cotton.
Extracts from cotton plants, which would be primarily gossypol , have been used as a medicine . In traditional medicine G. barbadense leaves have been used as a treatment for nausea during pregnancy or for ‘proud flesh’ (swollen tissue around a wound ).
G. barbadense extracts are still sold for treatment of hypertension , fungal infection and menstrual stimulant .