Is cotton a fruit or a flower?

Answered by Stephen Mosley

Cotton is an interesting plant that can be considered both a fruit and a flower. Let me explain in detail why this is the case.

Firstly, let’s talk about the flower aspect of cotton. Cotton plants produce beautiful, showy flowers that come in various colors such as white, yellow, and pink. These flowers are typically pollinated by insects, such as bees, which transfer pollen from the male reproductive parts of the flower to the female reproductive parts.

After successful pollination, the flowers start to undergo a process of fertilization and development. The fertilized flowers then transform into structures called bolls. These bolls are essentially protective capsules that contain seeds. So, in this sense, cotton bolls can be considered as fruits because they are formed from the ovary of the flower and contain seeds.

Inside the bolls, the development of cotton fibers begins. Each boll contains about 32 immature seeds, and from these seeds, the cotton fibers will grow. The fibers develop within the bolls, surrounded by a fluffy substance known as lint. Over time, the bolls start to fill up and open up, revealing the cotton fibers.

From a botanical perspective, fruits are defined as mature ovaries containing seeds. Since cotton bolls fit this description, they can be classified as fruits. However, it’s worth noting that cotton is not commonly referred to as a fruit in everyday language.

Cotton can be considered both a flower and a fruit. It starts as a flower that undergoes pollination and fertilization, eventually forming bolls that contain seeds and cotton fibers. So, while we often think of cotton as a fiber crop, it is fascinating to recognize its botanical classification as both a flower and a fruit.