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
Is this Weed Toxic?:


Legal listings:

WA Quarantine list, WAC 16-752

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.

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 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.

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).

Stevens County NWCB Fact Sheet on velvetleaf

Pierce County NWCB Fact Sheet on velvetleaf

King County NWCB Fact Sheet on velvetleaf

Additional Photos