abutilon: see mallow.

Abutilon is a large genus of approximately 150 species of broadleaf evergreens in the mallow family (Malvaceae). The genus includes annuals, perennials, shrubs, and small trees from 1-10 m tall, and is found in the tropical and subtropical regions of all continents. The leaves are alternate, unlobed or palmately lobed with 3-7 lobes. The flowers are conspicuous, with five petals, mostly red, pink, orange, yellow or white.

Common names include Abutilon, Chinese Bell Flower, Chinese Lantern, Mallow, Indian Mallow, and Flowering Maple (for the maple-like leaves of some species, although the genus is not related to the true maples).

Abutilon species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Yellow-banded Skipper (which feeds exclusively on A. avicennae) and Chionodes mariona.



Cultivation and uses

Abutilons are popular garden plants in subtropical areas. The hardiest species, A. ochsenii and A. vitifolium from Chile, are hardy in warm temperate areas with moderate frost down to about -10°C.

Abutilon x hybridum is a popular group of hybrids that are semi-tropical, frost-tender shrubs typically growing 2-3 m tall. The lantern-like buds open to solitary, pendulous, bell- to cup-shaped flowers to 8 cm diameter with five overlapping petals and significant staminal columns typical of the mallow family. Flowers come in red, pink, yellow, white and pastel shades. Lobed, maple-like, light green leaves are often variegated with white and yellow.




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