Becky Fox Matthews, Tennessee

Bill’s bouquets and mystery plant

August 25, 2009

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Bill, I love your beautiful little arrangements and portraits. It shows how much you appreciate the flowers! ;->
I hope no one minds I’m posting a mystery plant, definitely not a daff. I thought it was what a friend called a “root beer” plant, Hoya Santa, I had transplanted out to a border, but the heart-shaped leaf doesn’t have the root beer scent the plant she gave me did and the flowers were not what I see online for that plant, either. It had small yellow flowers earlier. Sorry I didn’t get a photo of it in bloom. I thought I’d better try to ID it fast with the big seed pods it has maturing.
Becky that daffy girl near Nashville

6 responses to “Bill’s bouquets and mystery plant”

  1. Becky Fox Matthews, Tennessee Becky Fox Matthews says:

    I forgot to say that the mystery plant is about 3′ high and the leaves quite large, probably 6″ long. Becky

  2. Stephen Hampson, California Stephen Hampson says:

    Becky, your mystery plant is commonly called Velvet Leaf. It’s in the mallow family; the same family that hibiscus and hollyhocks are in. It is an introduced plant (native to India) and is considered to be a weed.
    Steve Hampson

  3. Donna Dietsch says:
    Hi Becky,
    I don’t know what the name is, but I remember it as a weed.  The seed pods are very familiar.  Don’t let the seeds drop.  The leaves are rather soft and velvety, aren’t they?  I think it will grow taller, too.

  4. Melissa Reading says:

    Thanks, Steve, this solves a mystery for me, too.  I’d seen lots of this in the east in July this year, and didn’t know what it was.  It sure sounds like you want to get rid of it before it drops seed, and not put it in the compost pile, but rather the garbage.  See below.
    ( part of a longer article)
    Geographic Distribution: Velvetleaf is native to China and India (as cited in Warwick and Black 1988). The colonists cultivated velvetleaf fiber for needed rope and cloth (Spencer 1984). Velvetleaf was probably introduced to the U.S. before 1700, as it was widespread on the east coast in the early-1700▓s. The economic gains did not materialize, but farmers continued to cultivate it for 100 years (Mitich 1991). Velvetleaf is now widely distributed and considered a major weed of croplands in the U.S., particularly the Midwestern states, and in eastern Canada (as cited in Warwick and Black 1988). Herbarium records indicate that velvetleaf was first identified in eastern Canada in the 1860s, and until 1950 populations of velvetleaf were small and found in waste places and gardens. From 1950 to 1985 velvetleaf spread to all but three Ontario counties, and it is considered a weed of cultivated lands. The spread was attributed to contaminated seed of corn and soybeans, and movement by harvesting equipment (as cited in Warwick and Black 1988). Velvetleaf is found sparingly in WY and UT; it is reported from the Pacific coast; it is found as an orchard weed in southern CA. In Montana velvetleaf was first recorded in 1956, and it is a weed of gardens and disturbed areas. Velvetleaf is spreading, worldwide. This species is common in the Mediterranean countries, where it reduces crop yields. It was reported in the Netherlands in 1981.

    Velvetleaf is a Class A noxious weed in WA. It is a noxious weed in British Columbia, where it was discovered in 1990 in corn and raspberry plantings. Velvetleaf is also a noxious weed in Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Quebec, and Vermont (Invaders data base).

    Growth and Development: Velvetleaf is an annual, and reproduces by seeds that germinate throughout the growing season. This annual is described as a hot weather plant, and grows quickly during the hot summer months. The seedling develops a tap root immediately after emergence, and lateral roots develop 1 or 2 days later (Warwick and Black 1988). The fastest growth occurs 6 to 8 weeks after seedling emergence. By mid-season, velvetleaf will catch up and exceed crop heights. Flower and seeds are produced from July through October, depending on the area. As a late flowering summer annual, velvetleaf grows well when partially shaded, and can produce seed and infest a corn field while growing under the dense canopy. Velvetleaf is not frost tolerant, and dies with the first hard frost. The leaves and seeds have allelopathic effects that inhibit the germination and growth of crops, including alfalfa, radish, corn and turnip seedlings (Elmore 1980; Gressel and Holm 1964; Mitich 1991).

    Reproduction: Velvetleaf is self-compatible. Flowering is triggered by daylength, beginning in July and continuing until frost. Flowers are pollinated the day they open and the seeds mature 2 to 3 weeks after flowering. Each plant can produce from 700 to 17,000 seeds per plant (as cited in Warwick and Black 1988). The seeds have a hard seed coat, and a period of dormancy broken by scarification. Microbial or soil action, or tillage softens the seed coat, initiating water uptake and germination. The highest germination occurs in the top 2 to 3 inches of soil, and germination does not occur below 6 inches. Seeds are viable in the soil for 50 to 60 years (Roeth et al. 1983). Seeds remain viable after passing through the digestive tracts of animals. Seeds will ripen on the plant after the plant is pulled.

    At 08:52 AM 8/25/2009, shhampson wrote:

    Becky, your mystery plant is commonly called Velvet Leaf. It’s in the mallow family; the same family that hibiscus and hollyhocks are in. It is an introduced plant (native to India) and is considered to be a weed.

    Steve Hampson

  5. Becky Fox Matthews, Tennessee Becky Fox Matthews says:

    Yes, that is definitely the plan, Melissa. Like I told Phyllis, it was an interesting plant to see, but I’ve seen it now and will destroy it and the interesting seedpods! ;->
    Thanks, Becky
    Melissa M. Reading wrote:

  6. Tom Taylor says:
    See if velvet leaf is your mystery plant. I grubbed many of these from corn fields growing up in Indiana.
    Tom Taylor



    Technical Bulletin




      (Abutilon theophrasti Medic.)

    Family: Malvaceae

    Written Findings Updated February 2000

    Description and Variation: Velvetleaf is a summer annual that reproduces by seed. Velvetleaf reaches 3 to 8 feet tall or more, growing from a stout main stem, with upper branching.  As the common name implies, the entire plant is velvety and soft and is completely covered with short, fine hairs. The leaf arrangement is alternate. The large heart-shaped leaves are usually 2 to 5 inches wide, but they can be as large as 10 to 12 inches across. Each leaf is pointed at the tip. A slender petiole supports each leaf. The flowers are solitary or in small clusters, and they are found on short stalks in the upper leaf axils. Each yellow to yellow-orange flower is about ¾ inch wide, with 5 sepals, 5 petals and many stamens which fuse to form a tube. The cup shaped seed pod is 1 inch in diameter, and it is composed of 5 to 15 hairy beaked carpels arranged in a disc. The carpels split at maturity, and each carpel contains 2 to 9 seeds. The hairy, dull seeds are gray-brown, rough and flattened and strongly notched. Each seed is about 1/8 inch in diameter. Velvetleaf grows from a strongly developed, slender white taproot with many smaller root branches.

    Economic Importance: