Abutilon theophrasti (weed)

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Abutilon theophrasti flowers
Author: Dan Tenaglia (Missouriplants.com)
Source: IPM Images

Abutilon theophrasti (weed) (L.) Medikus - (velvetleaf)

This is one of the most important agricultural weeds in North America, affecting crops like maize, soybean or cotton. Also it is a problem weed in several parts of Europe. The species is highly competitive for light and if it emergences at the same time as the crop it can surpass the crop in height. It can then result in substantial crop losses unless controlled. E.g. yield losses of up to 50% have been estimated for maize and soybean. Moreover, it is a host to several diseases and pests of maize, cotton and other crops.

It is apparently native to Asia, but now has a world-wide distribution, mainly in temperate regions. It has been deliberately introduced into North America from England in the mid 1700s as a potential fibre crop. The seeds are very durable, remain viable when passed through the digestive tract of domestic animals, and can persist in the soil for over 50 years. Apart from herbicides, moving is recommended to reduce seed production.

Vernacular names
• Deutsch: Samtpappel
Lindenblättrige Schönmalve
• English: velvetleaf
• Français: jute de Chine

The annual plant grows up to 2 m high and has large, heart-shaped leaves, 10-20 cm wide with dense hairs on both sides. The flowers are yellow. A plant can produce more than 10,000 seeds per year in capsules about 2½ cm wide. The seeds are roughly triangular and kidney-shaped on one side. They are brown to black and 2-3 mm long.

For details see the respective page in the BugwoodWiki.