Abutilon Species, Butter Print, China Jute, Indian Mallow, Velvet Leaf

Abutilon theophrasti

Family: Malvaceae (mal-VAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Abutilon (a-BEW-tih-lon) (Info)
Species: theophrasti (thee-oh-FRAS-tee) (Info)
Synonym:Abutilon abutilon
Synonym:Abutilon avicennae
Synonym:Abutilon behrianum
Synonym:Abutilon commune
Synonym:Abutilon pubescens

There are some parts of the country where it is considered a serious pest and gardeners should check this list before purchasing, trading or planting it.
This plant is also on the Washington State quarantine list. It is prohibited to transport, buy, sell, offer for sale, or distribute plants or plant parts of quarantined species into or within the state of Washington

View this plant in a garden



Water Requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade




Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Gold (yellow-orange)

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Mid Fall

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Glendale, Arizona

Lucerne, California

Merced, California

San Ramon, California

Golden, Colorado

Atlanta, Georgia

Divernon, Illinois

Hinsdale, Illinois

Naperville, Illinois

Westchester, Illinois

Gary, Indiana

Westpoint, Indiana

Wichita, Kansas

Annapolis, Maryland

Brookeville, Maryland

Dearborn Heights, Michigan

Erie, Michigan

Marshall, Michigan

Glencoe, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota(2 reports)

Saint Cloud, Minnesota

Wanda, Minnesota

Cole Camp, Missouri

Saint Robert, Missouri

Wadsworth, Nevada

Browns Mills, New Jersey

New Milford, New Jersey

Buffalo, New York

Durhamville, New York

Gastonia, North Carolina

Delaware, Ohio

Grove City, Ohio

Hulbert, Oklahoma

Kellyville, Oklahoma

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Millersburg, Pennsylvania

Norristown, Pennsylvania

North Augusta, South Carolina

Gainesboro, Tennessee

San Antonio, Texas

Salt Lake City, Utah

Franklin, West Virginia

Hartford, Wisconsin

Menasha, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Oct 11, 2014, kittyrobin from Dallas, OR wrote:

Found this plant growing near my back deck this year. Never had seen it before. Took it to the extension office and they told me what it was. Last year our corn crop failed miserably. The ears never developed and they were crowed out by a yellow weed. It was called a smart weed . I am not taking any chances with a new type of crop destroyer. Farming is too expensive to lose everything to a pretty flower. Amazingly I also discovered a plant of American wild rice in my back yard. Never had seen one in Oregon before.


On Aug 29, 2011, stormyla from Norristown, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

One of these popped up in my yard this summer. It is a very rapid grower and is now 5' tall. I guess I will clip the blooms and seeds and cut it down. A bird must have planted it. Mine does not have velvet leaves, the leaves are completely smooth. It does resemble this plant in all other ways.


On Aug 19, 2010, SurprisedGarden from East Amherst,
United States wrote:

This crazy plant popped up during the 2 weeks we were on vacation. It is huge, easily 9 feet tall now (after a total of 4 weeks of visible growth), with lots of flowers, and large leaves. I'm getting rid of it though, with all the warnings I see. I think it crowded out/shaded my struggling clematis.


On Dec 20, 2007, bigcityal from Appleton, WI (Zone 5a) wrote:

A very opportunistic plant of disturbed sites including farm fields. Will out compete desirable plants if given the chance. I very often see non gardeners unwittingly coddle this plant thinking it is a sunflower.


On Sep 1, 2006, catncrows from Wadsworth, NV wrote:

Found one plant in my garden 4 years ago - let garden go fallow last two years- this year I have several. Squash seem to like them but not tomato. Easy to pull and deadhead. I'll cut all the pods this year before they seed just in case. Don't want them to "get away".


On Aug 11, 2006, helens2ndgenera from Grove City, OH wrote:

I am a beginner gardener. This year, I decided to grow my own flowers from seed by putting garden soil in patio containers. The problem I am having is I'm not familiar enough with leave formation to know which leaves are the flowers that I planted and which are weeds. I used 2 bags of Miracle-Gro garden soil. One bag had very few weed seeds so I was able to identify most of the leaves as flowers. The other bag of soil, on the other hand, was apparently full of weed seeds. I had never seen this plant before (I live in central Ohio), so I wasn't sure if it was a weed, but with the help of a weed book and this website I was able to identify this plant as velvet-leaf. All I can say at this point, is that this plant has thrived in the containers without a lot of care. Since it has the p... read more


On Aug 8, 2006, AuntNawnee from Gary, IN wrote:

The first time I had ever seen this plant was this spring.I had purchased a bag of top soil and it had several tiny seedlings growing in it.Curious to see what they were,I planted the seedlings in several small pots.The two that took off growing well were Velvet Leaf and a Carolina Cranesbill.I love the look of the Velvet Leaf and am saving the seeds for next year.Everyone who sees it comments on its beauty.I know it is considered a weed,but "one man's weed is another man's plant of beauty".


On Jul 21, 2006, slredmond from Battle Creek, MI wrote:

This is become a highly noxious weed, and in Canada they are claiming a 70% reduction in corn crop production where this weed is found. Argh!

The seeds can lie dormant for YEARS, and once disturbed can literally take over a field. This has become a tremendous problem. PLEASE do all you can to control this invasive weed.


On Mar 20, 2006, WUVIE from Hulbert, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Not a bad plant if you don't mind awkward looking.

I enjoy growing Butter Print because the leaves
provide entertainment for me. The seed pods make
great additive for potpourri. After the season is
over, I collect the pods, yank out the plant and be
done with it.


On Aug 14, 2005, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

A native of India, velvet leaf is a naturalized plant throughout the United States. It can be found growing in cultivated fields, disturbed sites, along roadsides and beside railroad tracks. Velvet leaf is usually considered to be an annual. It has a large taproot and attains a height between 1 foot to over 7 feet. It is covered with short, soft, velvety hairs. The alternate, toothed margined, densely hairy on both sides, 2 to 6 inches long and wide leaves are heart-shaped. They are acuminate which means that they gradually taper to a point. The leaves have palmate venation (veins originate from a common point) and they have unpleasant odor when crushed. The plant blooms from June through October. The approximately 1/2 to 1 inch wide, 5-petaled yellow to yellow-orange blooms are quite att... read more


On Jul 11, 2005, ladyannne from Merced, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

This plant is an experience, worth growing just once simply to touch and feel the leaves. I have never felt anything else like it in the plant kingdom. As long as you clip the seed pods, you can easily control it.


On Jul 30, 2004, epperson from Othello, WA wrote:

a local home owner called me about three days ago about a weed he had never seen. i went and looked at it and figured out that it was velvet leaf. this weed is not seen ariund here( columbia basin,washington). the plant is over 7 feet tall and growing,one of the leaves we measured was 27 inches wide. we are going to waterand fertilize it to see how far it will grow. he said he had a bird feeder where the plant is growing and i suspect the seeds came from the bird feed.


On Aug 11, 2002, talinum from Kearney, NE (Zone 5a) wrote:

This plant is considered to one of the most important and serious row crop weeds in Nebraska. Although it is attractive, it will reseed everywhere.


On Aug 9, 2001, eltel from Macclesfield, CHESHIRE (Zone 8a) wrote:

Abutilon theophrasti. Also known as Velvet leaf, Butter print and China jute, A. theophrasti comes originally from tropical Asia but has naturalized in the South East Europe, the Mediterranean and the US. The leaves are covered in fine hairs (hence one of its common names) and the flowers are a deep rich yellow. Usually described as an annual, it can be grown as a short lived perennial shrub to a height of about 3 feet.