This section is from the book "The London Medical Dictionary", by Bartholomew Parr. Also available from Amazon: London Medical Dictionary.
Cotton. Called also xylon, gossi-pium, colonium, moulelavou. Bombax pentandrum Lin. Sp. Pi. 959. There are three sorts of cotton trees: one creeps on the earth like a vine, the second is thick like a bushy dwarf tree, the third is tall as an oak. All the three, after producing beautiful flowers, are loaded with a fruit as large as a walnut, whose outward coat is black. When this fruit is ripe, it opens and discovers the cotton; the seeds are separated by a mill from the cotton. This tree grows in many places in the Levant, East and West Indies, especially in the Antilles. The fruit is oval. The cotton of the first sort, which creeps on the ground, is the best: that brought from the East Indies is supposed to be the byssus of the ancients. That produced near Smyrna is greater in quantity than any where else. They sow the seeds, which are like little beans, in June; gather the cotton in October; and the soil there produces three crops in a year.
The skin of the seed is mucilaginous, the kernel is sweet like an almond, and of virtues similar to the althea. If cotton is applied to wounds, it excites inflammation; and, when worn next the skin it checks perspiration. That called moulelavou is also denominated arbor lanigcra spinosa; gossipium arboreum caule spinoso, bombax ceiba Lin. Sp. Pi. 959. A tall cotton bearing tree, of the bark of whose root an emetic is prepared.