china jute

Abutilon theophrasti

Abutilon theophrasti (Velvetleaf, China Jute, Buttonweed, Butterprint or Indian Mallow) is an annual plant in the family Malvaceae, native to southern Asia. It grows to 1 m tall, and has velvet-like heart-shaped leaves 15-25 cm broad. The flowers are yellow, 4 cm diameter, maturing into button-shaped seed pods. The flowers and plants have a fruity scent, and out side of its natural range are considered damaging weeds to agricultural crops.

Cultivation and uses

Velvetleaf has been grown in China since around 2000 BCE for its strong, jute-like fibre. The seeds are eaten in China and Kashmir .

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

After being introduced to North America in the 1700s, 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 away from crops . Velvetleaf is controllable by herbicides.



  1. Richard H. Uva, Joseph C. Neal and Joseph M. Ditomaso, Weeds of The Northeast, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997), p. 256-257.
  2. Washingston State Noxious Weed Control Board: Velvetleaf
  3. A. Davis, K. Renner, C. Sprague, L. Dyer, D. Mutch (2005). Integrated Weed Management. MSU.

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