Chronicle 7: 561 May 5, 1877
A New Variety of Cotton
M. DELCHEVALERIE, the Inspector of Agriculture of Cairo, laid before the recent Congress of Amsterdam some specimens of a new Cotton plant found growing in Egypt. In a field of Cotton, among which were found some Bahmiehs (Hibiscus esculentus), a certain Cheik-el-Celed of the environs of Chibui-el-Kom, in Lower Egypt, noticed some specimens of fastigiate Cotton plants, quite different to the others, and similar in habit to the Bahmieh, or Bamia plant. The stems are about 8-10 feet high, straight, and with relatively few branches, and those ascending not spreading as in ordinary Cotton plants. Hence the planters of that region did not hesitate to call them “Kotn-Bahmieh.” They collected the seeds carefully, in order to plant them separately. The following year they obtained nearly half a feddau (about half an acre) of them, of which the seeds were collected in the same way, and Egypt this year already possesses important plantations of this new variety of Cotton. The first samples which arrived in the market of Alexandria were distributed among several merchants, who sent them to Liverpool, where they were classed above “fair Cotton,” and nearly fetched the price of “good fair.”
M. Delchevalerie, in a note addressed to the Congress, suggested the idea that this Cotton is a hybrid production between Hibiscus esculentus and the Egyptian Cotton itself, and he proposes this summer to make some experiments at Cairo, in order to ascertain if this be so. If this hybridisation has really taken place between the Hibiscus (Abelmoschus) esculentus and the Cotton, the fact will be of great importance from a scientific point of view, for it may give rise to other experiments in artificial fertilisation between other genera of the same family. Similar facts are not unprecedented in the records of horticulture. However this may be, the new Cotton plant is taller than the ordinary Cotton. It is erect, and scarcely branched, with the exception of two or three small branches at the base, which allow of the plants being planted closer. It has not the shrubby form of the ordinary Cotton plant, which has numerous branches, themselves branched and producing here and there at the joints a capsule of cotton on a long peduncle, as seen at fig. 87. On the contrary, in the new Cotton plant, the principal branch is straight and not branched: see fig. 86. The capsules grow on the principal stem in clusters in the axils of the leaves, and are likewise borne on long axillary stalks. The roots are more tap-shaped than those of the ordinary Cotton, whose root fibres moreover spread more horizontally (fig. 88). And what is more important is, that the new variety produces much more Cotton. The cultivators of this new Cotton plant have assured M. Delchelaverie that they have obtained fifteen quintals of it per feddau, in the rich soil of the Delta, while the ordinary Cotton does not produce half that quantity. M. Delchevalerie informs us that he has instituted a series of experiments at Cairo on the cultivation of this new Cotton plant, and he has kindly promised to let us know in due season the results of his researches concerning this important question.
We have already alluded to this Cotton, specimens of which may be seen in the Kew museum, though by no means equal to those exhibited at Amsterdam. Young plants are also growing at Kew and with Col. Trevor Clarke.