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Taxonomic understanding is a necessary prerequisite for intelligent germplasm maintenance and evaluation. Here, we use molecular evidence to address the generic position of the poorly known and morphologically unusual taxon Gossypium trifurcatum Vollesen. This species possesses dentate leaves, a feature not otherwise found in Gossypium L. but one that is common in Cienfuegosia Cav., a related genus in the small Malvaceous tribe Gossypieae. G. trifurcatum is a rare plant, restricted to deserts of Eastern Somalia and known from only two collections, the last in 1980. Using DNA extracted from an herbarium specimen, we amplified and sequenced the chloroplast gene ndhF. Phylogenetic analysis reveals G. trifurcatum to be cladistically nested within Gossypium. These data diagnose dentate leaves as an autapomorphy within a genetically diverse assemblage of African–Arabian species, which remain the least well-represented cottons in germplasm collections.