Abutilon theophrasti

Pest group: Plants
Pest type: Herbs
Management approach: Unwanted organisms

A herb growing up to 2.5m tall, and flowering in January and February, velvetleaf reduces crop yield and suppresses surrounding plant growth, making it difficult for anything to grow underneath it.


  • Velvetleaf is an upright annual herb growing up to 2.5m tall. The stems are hairy and branched in the upper section, and its leaves are large, alternating soft and hairy.
  • Flowers are visible in January and February and are yellow in colour.
  • The plant has large, distinctive seed capsules that form a cup-like ring of 13 woody and hairy segments about 2.5cm in diameter.
  • The seeds are dispersed by gravity. Human-mediated dispersal through movement of contaminated soil, crop seeds, crops, farming machinery and feed grain.
  • Velvetleaf habitats include crops, gardens, wastelands, fence lines, and roadsides.

What you need to know

Velvetleaf reduces crop yield and suppresses surrounding plant growth (allelopathic).

Management approach

Unwanted organism

An unwanted organism is an organism classified as a pest by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) because it is capable of causing harm to the natural environment, physical resources or human health in Aotearoa/New Zealand.


Any species declared a pest cannot be sold or be in a place where plants are being sold. Pest plants cannot be propagated, bred, multiplied, communicated, released, caused to be released, or otherwise spread.

See the MPI website for more information about unwanted organisms.


Do not attempt to undertake control of velvetleaf yourself. If you have seen velvetleaf, contact MPI on 0800 80 99 66.