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Abutilon theophrasti Medic. Mallow Family

Key identifying traits

  • Large (3-8 inch wide) heart shaped leaves grow alternately on long slender stalks

  • Entire plant is soft with short velvety hairs

  • Yellow to yellow-orange 5-petal flowers; ½-1 inch wide, solitary generally in upper leaf axils

  • 1-8 feet tall, rather linear in appearance with branching occurring in upper portion of plant

  • Distinctive circular cluster of 12-15 seed pods produce purplish brown, kidney shaped seeds

Biology and ecology

  • Tap rooted, summer annual reproducing by seed

  • Does not tolerate frost

  • 700-17,000 hard-coated seeds per plant remain viable when buried for more than 50 years

  • Native to Asia where fiber is used to make rope, bags, nets and paper-introduced in North America in 1700’s as a potential fiber crop

  • Serious row crop (corn/soybeans) weed in the mid-West

  • Found infrequently in gardens, along fencelines and roadsides throughout Washington

  • Leaves are horizontal by day, changing to nearly vertical at night


Prevention – Learn to identify plants; know your property; beware of contaminated vegetable seeds and feed screenings

Biological – Some active in mid-West

Cultural – Healthy established vegetation helps, but plants can produce seed under shade of a cover crop

Mechanical – Pulling, digging and cultivating prior to bloom will kill plants; burn plants with seed pods-even immature pods will ripen after cutting

Chemical – Several are reported to control the plant but no specific data available in Pacific Northwest

Where found – Known to occur only as single plants found in gardens in Stevens County

Created by Stevens County Noxious Weed Control Board, April 2000

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