What Is Pima Cotton?

by Christine Hayes ; Updated September 28, 2017

Pima is a species of cotton plant known for its long, smooth fibers. It is a type of extra-long staple cotton, or ELS. The quality is comparable to Egyptian cotton, but with slightly shorter fibers. Pima grows best in warm, humid climates. It's considered to be one of the finest cottons available.


Pima cotton belongs to the species Gossypium barbadense.


In the early 20th century, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) worked to cultivate a new type of cotton by blending varieties of Egyptian cotton with ELP cotton species from Peru. They named the new plant after the Pima Native American workers who labored on the USDA farm in Arizona.


Pima is grown in the southwestern U.S. and Australia.


Pima cotton fabric is known for its strength, softness, durability and absorbency.


Pima cotton is a popular fabric for towels, sheets and clothing.

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About the Author

Christine Hayes has been writing and editing professionally since 1995. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in music from Brigham Young University, she built a career writing materials for both freelance assignments and corporate positions. Publications include the Lehi Free Press and in-house corporate magazines "The Excellent Word" and "Stampin' Success."