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.