Abutilon oxycarpum (MALVACEAE) Small-leaved Abutilon

Plants to Plant

Shrub to 2 m, often soft with velvety leaves and weak stems on rocky slopes creek banks and sometimes in rainforest. Found throughout Australia though possibly rare and threatened in Victoria. Also known as Small-flowered Abutilon, Straggly Lantern-bush. Leaves heart shaped with fairly obvious veins. Belongs to the same family as hibiscus and distantly resembles Native Hibiscus except the leaves are not lobed. Leaf margins toothed and slightly hairy. Stems hairy. Petiole joins at the leaf edge. Flowers are small, yellow, buttercup shaped, often profuse. Propagate by seed erratic, seedlings need to be coddled. A useful garden plant if well watered and fertilized, becomes more luxuriant than when in the wild. Caterpillars of the Hawk Moth Agrius convolvuli have been reported using this plant as a host. Leaves eaten by Hibiscus Beetle, Jewel Beetle.
Leaves with fruit capsule. Photo: Robert Whyte

Similar plants

Sometimes confused with similar-looking species such as Cunningham’s Jute Corchorus cunninghamii and Poison Peach Trema tomentosa, when not in flower. Can be mistaken for undesirables, especially the closely related Abutilon grandifolium native to Central and South America – a well-known weed in the Pacific region, the USA, New Zealand and Australia. Paddy’s Lucerne Sida rhombifolia is also in the Mallow family, and is somewhat similar.
Photo: Robert Whyte

Closeup of fruit

Fruit 7-8 mm in diameter, 7-9 mm long, green; mericarps 8-12, awned. A mericarp is one segment of a fruit that has broken at maturity into units derived from the individual carpels, or in other words, one carpel of an umbelliferous fruit.
Photo: Robert Whyte