Abutilon theophrasti


Family: Malvaceae

Other common names: Indian mallow, butterprint, buttonweed

Weed Class: B

Year Listed: 1988

Native to: Eastern Europe, Asia and Northern Africa

Toxic: livestock

Other Legal Listings: WA Quarantine list, WAC 16-750

additional photos



Why is it a noxious weed?

It outcompetes the cultivated plants for resources. Seed bank establishment makes eradiation difficult as seeds can remain viable in the soil for 50 plus years. Leaves and seeds have allelopathic effects that inhibit the germination and growth of crops.

How would I identify it?

General Description: Velvetleaf is a tap-rooted annual reaching 3 to 8 feet tall and is covered in soft hairs.

Flower Description: Flowers typically solitary on short stalks in upper leaf axils. Flowers about 3/4 inches wide with five yellow to yellow orange petals and numerous stamens that are fused at the base to form a tube.

Leaf Description: Leaves are alternately arranged (or with alternate arrangement) on stem with petiole (leaf stalk). Leaves are rounded and heart-shaped (cordate) with a pointed tip. Leaf width typically 2 to 5 inches but can be as wide as 10 to 12 inches.

Stem Description: Velvetleaf grows from a stout, main stem with upper branches.

Fruit/Seed Description: Semi-rounded to cup-shaped capsules composed of many compartments (carpels). Each compartment contains 2 to 9 seeds.

May be confused with:

How does it reproduce?

Velvetleaf reproduces by seed, each plant produces 700-17,000 seeds. Seeds remain viable for 50 - 60 years and remains viable after passing through animal digestive tracks.

Where does it grow?

Velvetleaf is a common weed of waste areas, roadsides, vacant lots, fence rows and around farmsteads where it is found in barnyards, cultivated fields and gardens. Please click here to see a county level distribution map of velvetleaf in Washington.

How do I control it?

Mechanical Control

Small infestations may be hand removed or tarped. The entire plant must be removed.

Herbicide Control

Please refer to the PNW Weed Management Handbook, or contact your county noxious weed coordinator.


For more information

See our Written Findings for more information about velvetleaf (Abutilon theophrasti).

Additional Photos



Velvetleaf flower


Velvetleaf forming fruit


Opening flower


Developing fruit


leaf axil


Velvet leaf in corn field


underside of leaf


back to page top