A photograph of a cotton plant in bloom.
Cotton plants produce a single stem that grows to be three to four feet tall on average when cultivated in rows. From this stem, offshooting branches host blooms that become bolls—protective cases that hold seeds wrapped in cotton fiber. The coarseness of the bolls can damage the hands of cotton harvesters picking by hand. To get cotton fiber that can be made into textiles, the seeds need to be removed.