The genus Gossypium is widely distributed through the world's tropics and subtropics. A handful of species are used to produce cotton for textiles, a process that began thousands of years ago. Since ancient times cotton has been one of the world's most valuable crop plants. Gossypium hirsutum and Gossypium barbadense are the species most commonly used for industry. Home gardeners occasionally grown cotton for the distinctive fruits, which split open to reveal the cotton fibers that surround the seeds.