Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The plant is a shrub native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including the Americas, Africa, India, and Pakistan. The fiber most often is spun into yarn or thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile, which is the most widely used natural-fiber cloth in clothing today. The English name derives from the Arabic (al) qutn قُطْن , which began to be used circa 1400. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal.