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Abutilon theophrasti - Medik.

Common Name China Jute, Velvetleaf, Butterprint Buttonweed Jute, China Mallow, Indian Velvet Leaf
Family Malvaceae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Cultivated ground and waste places in the Mediterranean[50].
Range Asia - tropical. Naturalised in S.E. Europe and the Mediterranean[50].
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Abutilon theophrasti China Jute, Velvetleaf, Butterprint Buttonweed Jute, China Mallow, Indian Velvet Leaf

Abutilon theophrasti China Jute, Velvetleaf, Butterprint Buttonweed Jute, China Mallow, Indian Velvet Leaf


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Form: Upright or erect.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Abutilon theophrasti is a ANNUAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4. It is in leaf from May to October, in flower from July to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


A. avicennae. Gaertn.


 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Oil  Seed
Edible Uses: Oil

Seeds - raw or cooked. They can be eaten raw when they are under-ripe[179]. The ripe seed is dried and ground into a powder then used in soups, bread etc[177, 178]. It is washed first to remove any bitterness[179]. The seed contains about 17.4% protein, 16% fat, 33.8% carbohydrate, 4.4% ash[179]. Unripe fruit - raw[177]. This is really more of a seedpod[K].


Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Seed (Fresh weight)
  • 0 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 0%
  • Protein: 17.4g; Fat: 16g; Carbohydrate: 33.8g; Fibre: 0g; Ash: 4.4g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 0mg; Phosphorus: 0mg; Iron: 0mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;
  • Reference: [ ]
  • Notes:

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Astringent  Demulcent  Diuretic  Emollient  Laxative  Ophthalmic  Poultice  Stomachic

Ophthalmic. Used in the treatment of dysentery and opacity of the cornea[145, 178]. The leaves contain 0.01% rutin and are used as a demulcent[240]. A tea made from the dried leaves is used in the treatment of dysentery and fevers[222]. A poultice of the leaves is applied to ulcers[222]. The bark is astringent and diuretic[240]. A tea made from the dried root is used in the treatment of dysentery and urinary incontinence[222]. It is also used to treat fevers[240]. The seed is powdered and eaten in the treatment of dysentery, stomach-aches etc[222]. It is demulcent, diuretic, emollient, laxative and stomachic[218].


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Other Uses

Fibre  Oil  Paper

A fibre obtained from the stems is used as a jute substitute[123, 169]. It is coarse but flexible and strong[169, 171]. It is also used in rope-making[46, 61]. It takes dyes well[171]. The fibre is also used for making paper, the stems are harvested in the summer, the leaves removed and the stems steamed in order to remove the fibres[189]. The seeds contain about 19% of a semi-drying oil[240].

Special Uses


Cultivation details

Requires full sun or part day shade and a fertile well-drained soil[200]. Tolerates a pH in the range 5 to 8.2. This species is cultivated for its fibre in China and Russia where it succeeds as far north as latitude 56°n in W. Siberia[61, 123]. It is hardier and more disease-resistant than Jute (Corchorus spp.)[123]. Introduced to N. America in the eighteenth century, it has become a pestilential weed in many parts of the country[207]. Special Features:Invasive.


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Seed - sow early April in a greenhouse. Germination should take place within 2 - 3 weeks. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in May or June, after the last expected frosts. An outdoor sowing in April to early May in situ could also be tried, especially in those areas with warm summers.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Colorado: C list (noxious weeds). Iowa: Secondary noxious weed. Oregon: ”B” designated weed/Quarantine. Washington: Class A noxious weed, Noxious weed seed and plant quarantine. [1c]

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Abutilon megapotamicumTrailing AbutilonShrub2.0 7-10 FLMHSNM400
Abutilon ochsenii Shrub4.0 7-10  LMHSNM30 
Abutilon pictumAbutilon, Parlour Maple, Flowering Maple, SpottedShrub5.0 8-10 MLMHSNM30 
Abutilon purpurascens Shrub2.4 8-11  LMHSNDM20 
Abutilon species Shrub3.0 7-10  LMHSNM30 
Abutilon vitifolium Shrub8.0 7-10  LMHSNM30 
Abutilon x hybridumChinese Lantern, Flowering MapleShrub3.0 9-11 FLMHSNM300
Abutilon x milleriTrailing AbutilonShrub3.0 7-10  LMHSNM30 
Abutilon x suntense Shrub8.0 7-10 FLMHSNM30 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Geoffrey Tolle   Sun Aug 8 14:56:01 2004

This plant is also naturalized in North America.

Charles Paradise   Mon Aug 6 2007

I thought when I pulled one this week it pulled out easier than any other plant I'd ever pulled. It pulled even easier than Buckwheat. So, I thought, this would be a good cover crop. Problem is its seed can remain viable for more than 50 years, so I guess this wouldn't be such a good idea. Leaves remarkably soft, central stem remarkably hard. Would be interesting to know how well the stems decompose in compost, and how one strips fiber from the stems. Under survival conditions I would expect the fiber could be quite useful in a temperate garden. Perhaps fiber could be stripped in the garden and used for binding other plants in the garden?

Abutilon theophrasti has many other synonyms (in main comment). Also, the leaves are edible.   Aug 26 2011 12:00AM

"Velvetleaf [Abutilon Theophrasti] 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 seeds are eaten in China and Kashmir." --from Wikipedia-- So, the LEAVES are edible too.

From "Determining the Quality of Backyard Eggs" by J.D. Belanger "Rubbery yolks can be traced to freezing or severe chilling of fresh eggs, but also to crude cottonseed oil or velvetleaf seed in the feed. The yolks of eggs of free-range hens consuming velvetleaf seeds appear normal at first, but become rubbery, viscous and pasty after even a brief period of cold storage. The culprit has been traced to cyclopropenoid compounds, which tend to increase the saturated fat in eggs, tissue and milk. (Velvet weed, or velvetleaf, Abutilon theophrasti, introduced from Asia in the mid 1700s as a potential fiber crop, has become a major and widespread invasive weed, particularly in corn and soybean fields. Be aware that the seeds are often found in corn screenings.)"   Apr 18 2014 12:00AM

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