Gossypium (Gossypium australe)

Gossypium australe; herbarium specimen

Top facts

  • Gossypium australe is a relatively widespread species native to Australia, occurring in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.
  • The seeds of Gossypium australe are densely covered in short, stiff brown hairs that help in wind dispersal.
  • Gossypium australe is sometimes referred to as the desert rose or the native cotton.
  • The large flowers of Gossypium australe are white, pink or blue-purple, and have a magenta spot at the base of each petal.
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Gossypium fact file

Gossypium description

GenusGossypium (1)

Gossypium australe is a perennial woody shrub (2) (3) (4) (5) with cylindrical stems (3), and is one of 17 species within the Gossypium genus native to Australia (2) (3).

Sometimes referred to as the native cotton (6), Gossypium australe has large, ornamental flowers (3) (7) which are white, pink or blue-purple (2) (3) (7) and have a magenta spot at the base of each petal (3). In plants within the Malvaceae family, such as Gossypium australe, the flowering parts, including the petals, are usually found in fives (8). The long stamen filaments of this species are fused and have red anthers (3).

The leaves of Gossypium australe are broad and egg-shaped or slightly heart-shaped, and have a conspicuous scarlet nectar-producing glands, known as nectaries, located near the base of the mid-vein. The vegetative parts of this species are covered in soft hairs measuring just 0.1 millimetres in length (3).

Gossypium australe produces a capsule-like fruit (8). Its small seeds are egg-shaped (3) and are densely covered in short, stiff brown hairs (3) (9) that aid in wind dispersal (9).

Height: 0.5 - 3 m (2)
Seed length: 1 - 1.5 mm (3)

Gossypium biology

Little information is available on the biology of Gossypium australe, although it is known to flower in spring or summer (7), usually between April and October (2), and has a fast growth rate (4). As an arid zone species (11), Gossypium australe is frost sensitive (7).


Gossypium range

Gossypium australe is a relatively widespread Australian species (3) (10) native to Western Australia (2) (3), Queensland and the Northern Territory (3).


Gossypium habitat

Gossypium australe is an arid zone species (11), found in dry-monsoon and warm arid regions (3). It tends to occur on red, sandy soils (2), and large populations of this species are known to occur along roadsides in parts of its range (3).


Gossypium status

Gossypium australe has not yet been classified on the IUCN Red List.


Gossypium threats

At present, Gossypium australe is not considered to be a threatened species (2).


Gossypium conservation

There are currently no specific conservation measures known to be in place for Gossypium australe.


Find out more

Find out more about Gossypium australe:

More information on plant conservation in Australia:



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Part of the stamen (the male reproductive organ of a flower) that produces pollen.
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
An organ that makes and secretes substances used by the body.
Nectar-secreting glands, typically located at the base of insect-pollinated flowers. They usually attract insects to flowers, but can also attract seed-dispersing insects.
A plant that normally lives for more than two years. After an initial period, the plant usually produces flowers once a year.
The male reproductive organ of a flower. Each stamen is comprised of an anther (the pollen-producing organ) and a filament (stalk).


  1. Tropicos (May, 2013)
  2. FloraBase: The Western Australian Flora - Gossypium australe (June, 2013)
  3. Tiwari, R.S. (2007) Molecular Diversity and Determination of Possible Natural Hybridization Among the Australian Arid Zone Gossypium Species (australe, bickii, nelsonii, sturtianum). ProQuest, Cambridge.
  4. Karban, R. and Baldwin, I.T. (2007) Induced Responses to Herbivory. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
  5. Sarr, D. et al. (2011) Isolation of five new monosomic alien addition lines of Gossypium australe F. Muell in G. hirsutum L. by SSR and GISH analyses. Plant Breeding, 130: 60-66.
  6. Sweedman, L. and Merritt, D. (Eds.) (2006) Australian Seeds: A Guide to Their Collection, Identification and Biology. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
  7. Alice SpringsTown Council: Recommended Plant Database - Gossypium australe (June, 2013)
  8. Heywood, V.H. (1978) Flowering Plants of the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  9. Stewart, J.McD., Oosterhuis, D.M. and Heitholt, J.J. (Eds.) (2010) Physiology of Cotton. Springer, London and New York.
  10. Paterson, A.H. (Ed.) (2009) Genetics and Genomics of Cotton. Springer, London and New York.
  11. Solitis, P.S. (1992) Molecular Systematics of Plants. Springer, London and New York.

Image credit

Gossypium australe; herbarium specimen  
Gossypium australe; herbarium specimen

© The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Reproduced with the consent of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Kew Herbarium Catalogue
Herbarium, Library, Art & Archives
Royal Botanic Gardens
United Kingdom


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