Wake Atoll is an isolated chain of three islets located in the Western Pacific. Included in its endemic flora is a representative of the genus Gossypium colloquially referred to as Wake Island cotton. Stanley G. Stephens pointed out that “Wake Island cotton does not resemble closely either the Caribbean or other Pacific forms.” Taking into consideration morphological distinctions, the geographic isolation of Wake Atoll, and newly generated molecular data presented here, we conclude that the cottons of Wake Atoll do in fact represent a new species of Gossypium, here named Gossypium stephensii. This name is chosen to commemorate the eminent natural historian, evolutionary geneticist, and cotton biologist, S. G. Stephens.
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Vol. 42 • No. 1