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Gossypium tomentosum, commonly known as Maʻo or Hawaiian cotton, is a species of cotton plant that is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. It inhabits low shrublands at elevations from sea level to 120 m (390 ft).Maʻo is a shrub that reaches a height of 1.5-5 ft (0.46-1.52 m) and a diameter of 5-10 ft (1.5-3.0 m). The seed hairs (lint) are short and reddish brown, unsuitable for spinning or twisting into thread.
Genetic studies indicate that Hawaiian cotton is related to American species of Gossypium, with its closest relative Gossypium hirsutum. Its ancestor may have come to the islands from the Americas as a seed on the wind or in the droppings of a bird, or as part of floating debris.
^DeJoode, Daniel R.; Wendel, Jonathan F. (November 1992). "Genetic Diversity and Origin of the Hawaiian Islands Cotton, Gossypium tomentosum". American Journal of Botany. American Journal of Botany, Vol. 79, No. 11. 79 (11): 1311-1319. doi:10.2307/2445059. JSTOR2445059. Gossypium tomentosum is proposed, based on biogeographic evidence and molecular data, to have originated by transoceanic dispersal from a Mesoamerican progenitor.