Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Gossypium sturtianum

Gossypium sturtianum | Sturt's Desert Rose

The genus Gossypium is noteworthy for several species that produce the cotton of commerce. Australia has about 10 species of Gossypium. Gossypium sturtianum is the floral emblem of Australia's Northern Territory and is widely distributed throughout the interior. Flowers are pink with a dark red center. There are two recognized varieties of Gossypium sturtianum; var. sturtianum and var. nandewarense. A characteristic feature of most Gossypium is the presence of small, dark glands observable on most parts of the plant. These glands contain the substance gossypol which is toxic to non-ruminant animals. This species adapts well to cultivation, particularly in hot, dry climates. Gossypium sturtianum is able to withstand light frosts.

Historical Reference: In 1844, Captain Charles Sturt conducted an unprecedentedly bold expedition to the very centre of Australia, and substituted an interior desert for Oxley's inland sea, but, 15 years afterwards, J. McDouall Stuart also passed through the centre of the continent, and in turn dispelled Sturt's notion of a great central desert. A considerable collection of plants was made by Sturt, amounting to about 100 species, some of which were described by Brown in an Appendix to Sturt's narrative of the expedition. Two of the handsomest Australian flowers, Sturt's Desert Pea (Clianthus dampieri) and Sturt's Desert Rose (Gossypium sturtianum) bear his name. His great success in his expeditions procured him the title of "The father of Australian discovery."

   Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales
   By Linnean Society of New South Wales
   Published by Linnean Society of New South Wales., 1901