Weed with huge leaves

Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

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Ontario Weeds: Velvetleaf

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Excerpt from Publication 505, Ontario Weeds, Order this publication

Table of Contents

  1. Name
  2. Other Names
  3. Family
  4. General Description
    • Photos and Pictures
  5. Stems and Roots
  6. Leaves
  7. Flowers and Fruit
  8. Habitat
  9. Similar Species
  10. Related Links

Name: Velvetleaf, Abutilon theophrasti Medic.,
Other Names: abuliton, Butter-print, Elephant ear, Indian-mallow, Pir-marker, abutilon feuille de velours
Family: Mallow Family (Malvaceae)
General Description: Annual, reproducing only by seed.

Photos and Pictures

Velvetleaf (A – plant beginning to flower; B – flower and green seedpods).

Velvetleaf. A. Upper part of flowering stem. B. Cluster of seedpods. Stems & Roots: Stems 1-2m (3 – 6 1/2ft) tall and occasionally taller, much-branched in the upper part, finely soft-hairy.
Leaves: Leaves alternate (1 per node), broadly heart-shaped, large, 7-20cm (3-8in.) wide with a sharp-pointed apex, shallowly round-toothed, soft-hairy and very velvety to the touch.
Flowers & Fruit: Flowers single or in small clusters fom the leaf sxils, each with 5 large sepals and 5 yellow to yellow-orange petals, 1.3-2.5cm (1/2-1in.) wide when open; the filaments untied to form a central column as in the mallows; the fruit form each flower is a circular cluster of 12 to 15 seedpods about 1.3-2.5cm (1/2-1in.) long, at first green but turning dark brown to black at maturity, each individual pod opening with a vertical slit down its back and containing several purplish-brown, V-shaped seeds about 1mm (1/25in.) long. Flowers from late July until autumn.
Habitat: Velvetleaf occurs in southern Ontario where it is increasing in corn, soybeans and other annually tilled crops and in waste places.
Similar Species: It is distinguished by its erect habit of growth, large, alternate, valentine-shaped leaves which are very soft-velvety to the touch, its yellow to yellow-orange flowers, each with a central column of staments, its ring of several seedpods produced from each flower, and in late autumn bu the rather grotesque to blackish stem with many erect clusters of seedpods.

Related Links

… on general Weed topics
… on weed identification, order OMAFRA Publication 505: Ontario Weeds
… on weed control, order OMAFRA Publication 75: Guide To Weed Control

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Abutilon theophrasti

Anther color the anthers show no hint of a pink, reddish or purplish tint Anther opening the anthers have small holes or openings at the tips Anther spurs the anthers do not have spurs on them Anther tube length 0 mm Calyx growth after flowering the calyx does not grow to cover or partially cover the fruit Calyx symmetry there are two or more ways to evenly divide the calyx (the calyx is radially symmetrical) Carpel hairs the carpels have thick, woolly hairs Carpels fused the carpels are fused to one another Cilia on petals the petal margins do not have cilia Cleistogamous flowers there are no cleistogamous flowers on the plan Corolla morphology NA Corolla palate no Corona lobe length 0 mm Epicalyx the flower does not have an epicalyx Epicalyx number of parts 0 Filament surface the filament is smooth, with no hairs or scales Flower description the flower has a superior ovary, and lacks a hypanthium Flower diameter 15–25 mm Flower number At least 1 Flower orientation the flower points upwards or is angled outwards Flower petal color

  • orange
  • yellow

Flower reproductive parts the flower has both pollen- and seed-producing parts Flower symmetry there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical) Flowers sunken into stem no Form of style the style is branched above the base Fringed petal edges the petals are not fringed Fused stamen clusters there is one cluster of fused stamens Fusion of sepals and petals

  • both the petals and sepals are separate and not fused
  • the petals or the sepals are fused into a cup or tube

Hairs on flower stalk the flower stalk has hairs on it Hairs on inflorescence the axis of the inflorescence has hairs entirely without glands Horns in hoods (Asclepias) NA Hypanthium the flower does not have a hypanthium Inflorescence one-sided the flowers are arrayed in a spiral around the inflorescence axis or branches, or occur singly, or in several ranks Inner tepals (Rumex) NA Length of flower stalk 10–30 mm Length of peduncle 2–30 mm Marks on petals there are no noticeable marks on the petals Nectar spur the flower has no nectar spurs Number of branches in umbel 0 Number of carpels 10–15 Number of pistils 1 Number of sepals, petals or tepals there are five petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower Number of styles 5–30 Ovary position the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment Perianth shape

  • the perianth is another shape
  • the perianth is campanulate (bell-shaped, with a tube about as long as wide, flaring at the mouth)
  • the perianth is cupuliform (cup-shaped)

Petal and sepal arrangement the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures Petal and sepal colors

  • orange
  • yellow

Petal appearance the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown) Petal base the petal narrows gradually or does not narrow at the base Petal folding in bud

  • the petals in bud are arranged in a cycle with edges overlapping like roof shingles (imbricate)
  • the petals in bud are rolled like an umbrella, each petal having one edge tucked inside and the other edge exposed (convolute)

Petal folds or pleats the petals of the flower do not have folds or plaits Petal glandular dots or scales no Petal hairs (Viola) NA Petal hairs on inner/upper surface there are no hairs on the inner/upper petal surface Petal length 7–13 mm Petal length relative to sepals the petals are longer than the sepals Petal number 5 Petal shape the petal outline is obovate (roughly egg-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle of the leaf blade) Petal tip shape

  • the petal tip is retuse (with a blunt or rounded apex and a notch at the center)
  • the petal tip is truncate (ends abruptly in a more or less straight line as though cut off)

Petal tips (Cuscuta) NA Raceme attachment (Veronica) NA Reproductive system all the flowers have both carpels and stamens (synoecious) Scales inside corolla no Sepal and petal color the sepals are different from the petals Sepal appearance the sepals are green or brown, and leaf-like in texture Sepal appendages the sepals do not have appendages on them Sepal appendages (Oenothera) NA Sepal auricles the sepals have no auricles Sepal color green to brown Sepal length 5–8 mm Sepal number 5 Sepal orientation the sepals are pressed against the corolla, or jutting stiffly upward Sepal relative length NA Sepal shape the sepal outline is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends) Sepal uniformity all the sepals are about the same size Sepals fused only to sepals

  • the sepals are fused to each other (not other flower parts), at least near their bases
  • the sepals are separate from one another

Spur length 0 mm Spur number NA Stamen appendages stamen appendages are absent Stamen attachment the stamens are attached at or near the bases of the petals or tepals Stamen lengths differ the stamens are all approximately the same length Stamen morphology the stamens within each cycle are the same Stamen number 13 or more Stamen position relative to petals NA Stamen relative length anything Stamens fused the stamens are attached to one another at or near their bases Staminodes there are no staminodes on the flower Stigma position the stigmas are positioned at the tip of the style Style petal-like the styles are not petal-like Style relative length the stigma does not protrude beyond the mouth of the corolla Surface of ovary the ovary surface is covered with small prickles Umbel flower reproductive parts NA Upper lip of bilabiate corolla NA

What Cannabis Leaves Can Tell You


Weed leaves are key components of the cannabis plant’s life support system. The green pigment chlorophyll allows leaves to act as solar panels for marijuana. Leaves are essential to photosynthesis. Moreover, the underside of leaves are covered in tiny stomata. These microscopic holes open and close like a door. Carbon dioxide goes in, oxygen and water goes out. Furthermore, leaves can also absorb nutrients to feed the cannabis plant, this is known as foliar feeding.


Three kinds of cannabis species are generally agreed upon. Although all three are often lumped together under the official classification of Cannabis sativa L., for practical purposes, it helps to make distinctions between sativa, indica, and ruderalis. That being said, most cannabis you encounter these days is a hybrid. Thus, what you will typically see in the grow-op are weed leaves that express a blend of genetic traits.


Sativa leaves are long and slender-fingered. Some can develop as many as 13 fingers. Usually, sativa plants will have a lighter, lime green shade. It is believed that the reduced chlorophyll is partly responsible for the longer flowering period of sativa strains.


Indica leaves are short and wide, typically with 7-9 fat fingers. The heaviest indicas of Afghan origin can have oversized, extra-wide fan leaves. Indica leaves are a darker, deeper shade of green. The higher chlorophyll content is believed to accelerate the bloom cycle of indica varieties.


Ruderalis leaves are quite thin and only develop 3-5 slender fingers. Most growers describe them as comparable with the leaves of young sativa plants. Think of them as miniature sativa leaves with fewer fingers. These leaves are special as they have evolved to give autoflowering cannabis the ability to flower independent of the hours of light it receives.


Cannabis can display leaf mutations. Some of these mutations are initiated by breeders to better camouflage the plant and make it less identifiable as marijuana. Other times, mutations are a minor defect inherent to some strains. Apart from the common, gnarly-looking sets of leaves that appear on young plants, widespread leaf mutations with even numbers of fingers and ugly deformities are very rare. Excessive mutations are indicative of bunk genetics and poor breeding practices.


You don’t need to be a shaman or a tree-hugger to communicate with your cannabis plants. You just need to be informed. The leaves on your cannabis plants can send you an SOS, but you must have the knowledge to decode it and take appropriate measures to fix the problem.


An eyeball inspection might be insufficient to accurately diagnose a possible pest infestation. Discolouration of leaves is not enough evidence to jump to conclusions. However, a thorough eyeball inspection will reveal some pests’ presence. Leaf miners will leave telltale tunnels as they eat their way through leaves. If you see white veins running through leaves, it’s time to get some neem oil.

A visual inspection using a pocket microscope will reveal the presence of other microbial nasties. Be on the lookout for eggs, larvae, fungal spores, and mould. Leaf septoria is caused by the fungus Septoria lycopersici. This particular invader is often misdiagnosed as one of many possible nutrient deficiencies. Yellow spots suddenly presenting on leaves early in flowering, followed by a rapid yellowing and browning of foliage can destroy the whole crop rapidly. There is no time to waste with misdiagnosis.


Yellow leaves are a warning sign and a cry for help from the cannabis plant. Unfortunately, many nutrient deficiencies, over-fertilisation, and heat stress can cause leaves to yellow and wither. It’s so important to closely monitor your cannabis crop, be it indoors or outdoors. If you have been paying attention, you can take corrective action with more confidence diagnosing.

Fluctuations in pH are responsible for the majority of yellow leaves. When the water pH is outside of the optimal ranges for your growing medium, the roots cannot access all the nutrients they need. Nutrient lockout is perhaps the most common cause of yellow leaves in cannabis plants.


Fan leaves have very low cannabinoid content and are best added to the compost heap for next season’s super soil mix. Sugar leaves, or the resinous trim leaf that a grower accumulates during the harvest process, is excellent raw material for homemade cannabis concentrates.

Dry those frosty trim leaves in a brown paper bag like you would popcorn buds. After a couple of weeks, put them in a Pyrex lunchbox and store them in the freezer until you decide on what kind of extract you want to make. Shakers can be filled with sugar leaves to extract pollen. You can also use isolator bags to make bubble hash; the choice is yours. With a little stoner ingenuity, leaf trim can be easily converted into top-shelf hash.

Perhaps in a crevasse in a parking lot or near the side of a stream or road you saw some tall weeds with thick stalks, and you are wondering what the plant could be. While weeds can be hard to identify, there are relatively few invasive kinds of weeds that are really tall.

If you live in the Eastern half of the U.S., and especially if you didn’t notice the plants the year before and now they are suddenly several feet tall with large heart-shaped leaves, then you are probably seeing a Paulownia Tree Sapling.

This weed grows quickly, being classified as a weed due to its invasiveness, yet it is technically a tree. It has flowers of different colors and can put on quite a display.

However, if you are seeing some tall weeds with thick stalks and yellow flowers, then it is likely not the Paulownia since they do not flower in their first year nor do they have a variety that grows yellow flowers.

How To Identify Paulownia Plants

Paulownia trees can also be referred to sometimes as Princess Trees, Empress Trees, or even Foxglove Trees and their flowers can sometimes resemble those of Foxgloves.

Unlike Foxgloves, however, Paulownia trees only come in a limited number of varieties with only a couple different colors of flowers, one color being blue with yellow flowers with the other having more lavender or pink flowers that sometimes are so light as to look like white flowers.

Royal Paulownia Tree Flowers

The flowers are a couple of inches in size or smaller and bloom for only 2-4 weeks out of the year, usually around April or May, and then they produce egg-shaped seed pods.

These seed pods eventually turn brown in color and contain seeds in four different sections. Late in the winter or early in spring before it starts growing, the seed pods will crack open and release thousands of seeds. A large tree can potentially release several million seeds each year.

What Are Some Of The Benefits Of Paulownia Plants

Paulownia trees are excellent shade trees, growing up to fifteen feet in their first year and then their growth slows as they continue to grow to around thirty to forty feet in height. For that reason, they can be found in many garden magazines.

Their blue and yellow flowers and their purplish pink flowers are lovely to behold each spring, and it is entirely self-sufficient, not even needing the occasional watering or mulching.

The wood from this plant is excellent for woodworking with very little chance that it will warp or split, no matter what the moisture it is exposed to is.

In some places in China, it used to be a custom to plant one of these trees when a family had a baby daughter born. When the daughter was old enough to marry they would cut it down and use the wood to make items for her dowry.

Why And How To Get Rid Of Paulownia Plants

Paulownia trees are incredibly invasive and grow wild as far north as Maine, as far south as Florida, and as far east as Texas with one or two other states in the far north-east having some as well.

It grows so quickly that it can kill out other native plants and it is considered so harmful to the ecosystem that it is actually illegal to sell this plant in Connecticut.

Getting rid of Paulownia trees can be extremely difficult to do since these plants grow so well. The first step to getting rid of these weeds is to prevent them from spreading more seeds and increasing their population. You can do this most effectively by cutting the tree near the roots every year.

Since paulownia trees can only flower on mature growth, this prevents them from flowering and thereby prevents them from having any seeds, though it doesn’t kill the plant.

Small sproutlings can be pulled up by hand, preferably right after a good rain, so the soil is loose. Be careful to get all pieces of the root because paulownia weeds can grow back again if you leave so much as a sliver of the root behind. For this same reason, girdling the tree will have little effect as the part of the tree beneath the girdle will quickly grow off-shoots and sprouts.

Girdling the tree, cutting it above the girdle, and immediately applying a stump remover or herbicide to the top, has a good amount of success at killing these Paulownia trees.

Seedlings that are too large to pull up by hand can sometimes be killed by spraying the leaves with herbicides like RoundUp. If you dislike using chemicals, it is possible to kill it by repeatedly cutting it to the ground a few times a year for a couple of years or so.

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Sarah Byrd

Sarah Byrd has written about gardening for both online and print publications. She completed two writing courses at Pierpont Community and Technical College.

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Home Yard & Garden Newsletter at the University of Illinois

Issue 11, July 2, 2009

Beware the Pretty Vines Found in the Landscape

Vining plants are often desirable in the home landscape. They cleverly disguise carefully placed trellises and their form seems to take on a life of its own. Some vines have been known to cover trees, poles, cars, and even slow moving animals I suspect. Quite a few vines are considered weedy by most. Too often, people will allow an unidentified, cute, little vine to flower. Fast forward a few years, and its population will be out of control. The initial cuteness impression will be long gone and efforts will be underway to eradicate it.

Proper identification is critical to good weed control as is scouting often for emerging weed issues. Need some help identifying those mystery vines? Here is a brief description of some of the more common weedy vines found in lawns and gardens. As with all broadleaf weeds, leaf arrangement, flower type and the presence of underground structures such as rhizomes or tubers all play a key role in identification.

Honeyvine milkweed (Ampelamus albidus) is a perennial vine that spreads by seed and long spreading roots. The leaves are heart-shaped on long petioles and opposite on the stem. Flowers are small, whitish, and borne in clusters. It forms a smooth, green seed pod that is similar to that of common milkweed. Pods persist into winter and can then be spotted easily in the landscape when evergreens are the backdrop. The presence of the pod is a dead giveaway for identifying this weed.

Hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium) is a perennial vine that spreads by rhizomes. The leaves are alternate on the stem and are distinctly triangular in shape with a pointy tip. The leaf base is cut squarely. The flowers are white to pink, and funnel-shaped like that of morningglory, another vine I will discuss in a bit. Bindweed is often mistaken for morningglory which is an annual weed. Initially, it may not be perceived as much of a problem, although, the rhizomes can help this vine spread quickly.

Field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) is similar to hedge bindweed except the leaves are arrowhead shaped with a rounded tip. Also, the leaves are smaller and the leaf bases are rounded with outwardly divergent lobes. I try to keep the two straight by thinking “hedges have edges.” Field bindweed is a rhizomatous perennial as well.

Wild buckwheat (Polygonum convolvulus) is similar also, but the lobes at the base of the leaf point backwards toward the petiole and it has an ochrea which is the easiest way to differentiate between these species. An ochrea is a papery sheath that encircles the stem where the petiole attaches to the stem. It is indicative of the smartweed family for which it is a member. Also, the flowers are greenish white and inconspicuous. They are clustered on long white racemes. Wild buckwheat is an annual so there are no rhizomes like the bindweeds have. Don’t let this fool you; it is still considered a “serious weed” according to Weeds of the North Central States.

Morningglories (Ipomoea spp.) are often confused with bindweed and wild buckwheat too except the leaf shape is quite different. Depending on the species, leaves are either heart shaped or 3-lobed (ivy like). The cotyledons are butterfly-shaped. Most of the morningglories found in Illinois are summer annuals so reproduction is by seed. Bigroot morningglory or wild sweet potato as it’s also called (I. pandurata) is a perennial found across the state. Both bigroot and tall morningglory have heart shaped leaves like honeyvine milkweed, however, the leaves are alternate on the stem. Bigroot morningglory can be distinguished by its reddish purple centered white flowers and large underground tubers.

Controls for vines include repeated pulling or cutting back, mowing, mulching, and herbicides. In a turf situation, grass should be properly maintained and mowed as high as possible. These vines have a difficult time growing in thick, lush turfgrass. Postemergent herbicides that provide at least some control of these vines include but are not limited to the following: 2,4-D, carfentrazone, quinclorac, dicamba, oxyfluorfen, and triclopyr. Glyphosate may also be used for spot applications as it is a non-selective herbicide. Be sure to carefully read and follow all label directions. Repeated applications may be necessary. Summer annual weeds are most susceptible to treatment in the spring or early summer when they are young. For perennials such as the bindweeds, fall applications may be most effective.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, you know. Just today as I snapped a picture of field bindweed in flower, an innocent bystander said that she thought the flowers were so pretty. She’s right. They are pretty–up close. But when I see this vine cover a shrub, I can’t think of it being anything other than a weed.–Michelle Wiesbrook

Michelle Wiesbrook

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