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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

Velvetleaf is a rather tall and lanky plant with large leaves that is easy to identify in the field because there is really nothing else that resembles it. There are other weedy members of the Mallow family that have been introduced from abroad, but they are much smaller plants. Velvetleaf is about as tall as the native Hibiscus spp. (Rose Mallows), but the latter are perennials with darker foliage and much larger flowers. The seeds of Velvetleaf are reportedly edible. In an outdoor emergency, the soft leaves can be used as a substitute for toilet paper.
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© John Hilty

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Description

This is an annual plant about 2-7' tall that branches occasionally. The stems are terete (circular in cross-section), and pubescent. The alternate leaves are up to 8" long and across (excluding the petioles). They are cordate or orbicular-cordate, slightly dentate along their margins, and more or less pubescent. The primary veins of the leaves are arranged palmately. The petioles are up to 4" long and pubescent as well. The foliage of the entire plant is mostly light green, although the upper surfaces of the leaves are dull green.  From the axils of the upper leaves, there occasionally develops a single flower about ¾" across. It consists of 5 petals that are orange-yellow or yellow, 5 sepals that are pubescent and light green, and numerous stamens with golden yellow anthers that surround the pistil in a loose cluster. The flowering stalk of each flower is about 1" long, which is much shorter than the petioles of the leaves. The blooming period usually occurs from late summer to early fall, and lasts about 1-2 months. The flowers are sparingly produced and short-lived. Each flower is replaced by a fruit about ¾" across. It is initially light green, but rather quickly turns brown or black with maturity. This fruit consists of a ring of about 10-15 flattened seedpods. Each seedpod has a stout beak and contains about 5-15 seeds. Each seed is greyish brown, somewhat flattened, and either reniform (kidney-shaped) or cordate (heart-shaped). The root system consists of a stout white taproot. This plant spreads by reseeding itself.
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Miscellaneous Details

Notes: dry deciduous forests
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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Maharashtra: Nasik
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Distribution in Egypt

Nile region and Sinai.

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Global Distribution

Tropical and subtropical regions; naturalized in north America and elsewhere.

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Distribution: Native to India; introduced and fully naturalized in North America; North Asia and Westward to South Europe. It is of rare occurrence in Pakistan.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Herbs subshrublike, annual, 1-2 m tall. Petiole 3-12 cm, stellate hairy; leaf blade orbicular-cordate, 5-10 cm in diam., both surfaces densely stellate pubescent, base cordate, margin minutely crenate, apex long acuminate. Flowers solitary, axillary, yellow. Pedicel 1-3 cm, pubescent, articulate near apex. Calyx cup-shaped, densely puberulent, lobes 5, ovate, ca. 6 mm. Corolla uniformly yellow; petals obovate, ca. 1 cm. Filament tube glabrous. Ovary 15-20-loculed, 1-1.5 cm, densely pubescent, apex truncate. Capsule semiglobose, ca. 1.2 × 2 cm; mericarps 15-20, stellate pilose, apex 2-awned, awns spreading, 3-5 mm, hairy. Seed reniform, brown, stellate puberulent. Fl. Jul-Aug.
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Description

Annual, 1-2 m tall velutinous herb. Leaves with 2-20 cm long petiole; stipules 5-8 mm long, caducous; blade 2-16 cm across, usually orbicular or broadly ovate, long acuminate, deeply cordate at base, minutely crenate-dentate or undulate, with 7-11 prominent nerves, velutinous-stellate hairy on both sides, more velutinous beneath. Flowers axillary, solitary or few flowered terminal raceme; pedicel 1.5-4 cm long, tomentose, articulate near the apex. Calyx c. 1 cm long, fused below the middle; lobes 4-7 mm broad, ovate or lanceolate, acuminate, stellate tomentose without, less so within. Corolla yellow; petals 1.2 cm long and broad, obovate, glabrous. Staminal column 2-4 mm long, glabrous. Ovary globose, c. 3 mm across, villous. Fruit 12-15 mm long (awns excluded), 15-20 mm broad, black.
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Diagnostic Description

Diagnostic

Habit: Herb
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Synonym

Sida abutilon Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 685. 1753; Abutilon avicennae Gaertner, nom. illeg. superfl.; A. avicennae var. chinense Skvortsov; A. avicennae f. nigrum Skvortsov; A. californicum Bentham; A. pubescens Moench; A. theophrasti var. chinense (Skvortsov) S. Y. Hu; A. theophrasti var. nigrum (Skvortsov) S. Y. Hu; A. tiliifolium (Fischer) Sweet; S. tiliifolia Fischer.
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Ecology

Habitat

Weed of cultivation.

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Habitat & Distribution

Disturbed areas, neglected fields, also cultivated. Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Nei Mongol, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanghai, Sichuan, Taiwan, Xinjiang, Yunnan [India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam; Africa, SW Asia, Australia, Europe, North America].
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Associations

Faunal Associations

The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract various kinds of bees, including bumblebees, leaf-cutting bees (Megachile spp.), miner bees (Melissodes spp.), and Halictid bees. Occasionally, small butterflies and skippers visit the flowers for nectar, while Syrphid flies feed on the abundant pollen. Two insects feed destructively on VelvetLeaf. The caterpillars of Pyrgus communis (Checkered Skipper) make folded-leaf nests from which they feed, while a scentless plant bug, Niesthrea louisianica, feeds on the floral buds, flowers, and seeds. Photographic Location
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Flower-Visiting Insects and Birds of Velvet Leaf in Illinois

Abutilon theophrastii (Velvet Leaf) introduced
(Bees suck nectar or collect pollen; Syrphid flies feed on pollen & are non-pollinating; hummingbirds & other insects suck nectar; observations are from Robertson)

Birds
Trochilidae: Archilochus colubris sn

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus griseocallis sn cp fq, Bombus pensylvanica sn fq; Anthophoridae (Anthophorini): Anthophora walshii sn; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Melissodes agilis sn, Melissodes bimaculata bimaculata sn cp fq, Melissodes boltoniae sn, Melissodes communis sn cp, Melissodes comptoides sn cp, Melissodes nivea sn cp, Melissodes rustica sn, Melissodes tepaneca sn, Svastra obliqua obliqua sn; Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile brevis brevis sn, Megachile latimanus sn cp

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Halictus confusus sn, Lasioglossum coriaceus sn, Lasioglossum versatus cp np

Flies
Syrphidae: Toxomerus marginatus fp np

Butterflies
Pieridae: Phoebis sennae sn, Pieris rapae sn

Skippers
Hesperiidae: Pholisora catullus sn

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Foodplant / sap sucker
hypophyllous Coccus hesperidum sucks sap of live leaf (near veins) of Abutilon theophrasti
Remarks: season: 1-12

Foodplant / sap sucker
Pseudococcus sucks sap of live green part of Abutilon theophrasti

Foodplant / sap sucker
Rhizoecus sucks sap of live stem base of Abutilon theophrasti
Other: major host/prey

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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Annual.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Abutilon theophrasti

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Abutilon theophrasti

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Management

These species are introduced in Switzerland.
  • Aeschimann, D. & C. Heitz. 2005. Synonymie-Index der Schweizer Flora und der angrenzenden Gebiete (SISF). 2te Auflage. Documenta Floristicae Helvetiae N° 2. Genève.   http://www.crsf.ch/ External link.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

Velvetleaf is typically found in full sun, mesic conditions, and a fertile soil consisting of loam or clay-loam. The fertility of the soil, particularly the level of nitrogen, has a strong influence on the size of the plant. The seeds can remain viable in the soil for at least 20 years, if not considerably longer. Range & Habitat
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Wikipedia

Abutilon theophrasti

Abutilon theophrasti (Velvetleaf, China Jute, Buttonweed, Butterprint, Pie-marker, or Indian Mallow) is an annual plant in the family Malvaceae, native to southern Asia. Its specific epithet theophrasti commemorates the ancient Greek botanist-philosopher Theophrastus.[2]

Description[edit]

Flower and leaves

It grows to 1 m tall, and has velvet-like heart-shaped leaves 15–25 cm broad. The flowers are yellow or orange, 4 cm diameter, maturing into button-shaped capsules which split lengthwise to release the seeds. The flowers and plants have a fruity scent.

Velvetleaf grows as a weed primarily in cropland, especially corn fields, and it can also be found on roadsides and in gardens.[3] Velvetleaf prefers rich and cultivated soils, such as those used in agriculture.

Cultivation and uses[edit]

Velvetleaf has been grown in China since around 2000 BCE for its strong, jute-like fibre. The leaves are edible, stir-fried or in omelette. The plant is known as maabulha in the Maldives and its leaves were part of the traditional Maldivian cuisine, usually finely chopped and mixed with Maldive fish and grated coconut in a dish known as mas huni.[4] The seeds are eaten in China and Kashmir.[5]

Invasive species[edit]

In midwestern and northeastern regions of the United States, eastern Canada and the Eastern Mediterranean, A. theophrasti is considered a damaging weed to agricultural crops, especially corn and soybeans.[6]

Since being introduced to North America in the 18th century, velvetleaf has become an invasive species in agricultural regions of the eastern and midwestern United States. It is one of the most detrimental weeds to corn causing decreases of up to 34% of crop yield if not controlled and costing hundreds of millions of dollars per year in control and damage. Velvetleaf is an extremely competitive plant, so much so that it can steal nutrients and water from crops.[7] Velvetleaf is controllable by herbicides.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Abutilon theophrasti". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved January 26, 2008. 
  2. ^ De Ruff, Robert. "A short description of Abutilon theophrasti". Plants of Upper Newport Bay. 
  3. ^ Richard H. Uva, Joseph C. Neal and Joseph M. Ditomaso, Weeds of The Northeast, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997), p. 256-257
  4. ^ Xavier Romero-Frias, The Maldive Islanders, A Study of the Popular Culture of an Ancient Ocean Kingdom, Barcelona 1999, ISBN 84-7254-801-5
  5. ^ "Velvetleaf". Written Findings of the State Noxious Weed Control Board - Class A Weed. February 2000. 
  6. ^ Hameed A. Baloch, Antonio DiTommaso and Alan K. Watson. "Intrapopulation variation in Abutilon theophrasti seed mass and its relationship to seed germinability". Seed Science Research (2001) 11, 335–343. 
  7. ^ Davis, K. Renner, C. Sprague, L. Dyer, D. Mutch (2005). Integrated Weed Management. MSU
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Notes

Comments

Abutilon theophrasti is extensively cultivated for its bast fibers, which are used to make string, rope, shoes, rugs, and countless other items; it is also used medicinally for fever, dysentery, and stomachaches. The fiber is known as "China Jute" or "Tientsin Jute."
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Comments

This is a very important plant for its lustrous, white bast fibres. It is extensively cultivated in China, especially in North China (Hu, l.c.). In America this is preferred over jute and Manila hemp. Aniline dyes make its natural lusture prominent (Dastur 1951). Probably in Pakistan its qualities are not known. It may be grown in northern region of our country.
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