Monday, March 26, 2012


Cotton in the Marianas?


But not the kind grown in Alabama.  Spaniards imported a tropical variety of cotton that comes from these tall, slender trees with branches that normally shoot out horizontally.  I find them to be handsome trees.

Algodón is "cotton" in Spanish.  In Chamorro, it is atgidon, or atgodon.  So, the tree (trongko) is called Trongkon Atgidon.

The cotton from these trees (scientific name, Gossypium barbadense, after the Barbados Islands in the Caribbean) can be of excellent quality, commanding a higher price than regular cotton, and so silky in texture that it was sometimes blended with silk.

This particular tree is replete with bulbs opening up with white cotton.

But our mañaina didn't know how to spin and weave, so the cotton from these trees was used just for stuffing pillows and cushions, and as swabs I imagine. 

I'll have to check if suruhåno and suruhåna used any part of the tree for medicinal purposes.

Cotton, from trees growing wild in the Marianas

During Spanish times, there was an attempt to grow these Trongkon Atgidon commercially and make lots of money.  Japanese workers were brought to Guam to do this.  The project failed and the Japanese who didn't die on Guam sailed back to Japan.

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