This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
An extensive and very distinct order of herbs, shrubs, or rarely trees, with stellate hairs, alternate stipulate leaves, and usually showy flowers. Flowers regular, usually furnished with a bracteate involucel. Sepals 5, more or less united at the base, valvate in bud. Petals 5, often oblique, twisted in bud. Stamens many; filaments combined into a tube; anthers 1-celled. Disk small, sometimes growing up between the car-pels. Carpels numerous, usually whorled, free or combined, 1 - or more seeded. Seeds reniform, obovoid or sub-globose, often hairy, with little or no albumen. All the species are harmless, and many mucilaginous. Cotton is the produce of a member of this family. The species occur in all parts of the world except the very coldest.