Herbs & Plants

China Jute (Abutilon theophrasti – Medik.)

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Botanical Name : Abutilon theophrasti – Medik.
Family :  Malvaceae
Genus :  Abutilon
Synonyms: Abutilon avicennae – Gaertn., Sida abutilon – L.

Common Names:Indian Mallow. Abutilon Theophrasti, Medic. (Abutilon Avicennoe, Gaertn.). Velvet Leaf, American Jute, Butter Print

Habitat: Asia – tropical. Naturalised in S.E. Europe and the Mediterranean.  Cultivated ground and waste places in the Mediterranean.Cultivated Beds.
Range: Maine to South Dakota, southward to Florida and Texas.

Annual growing to 1m.
It is hardy to zone 4. It is in leaf from May to October, in flower from July to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)
Time of bloom: July to October.  Seed-time: August to November.


Stem stout, erect, round, softly hairy, three to six feet in height, and branching widely. Leaves alternate, pointed-heart-shaped, three inches to nearly a foot broad, velvety above and below with a dense coat of exceedingly fine, soft hair; petioles slender and nearly as long as the blades. Flowers solitary in the axils, each about a half-inch broad, with five yellow petals and a velvety green, five-lobed calyx, many stamens, united in a ring around the several pistils which are also united at the base, but distinct above, projecting beyond the stamens. The compound seed-vessel is much larger than the flower, being about an inch broad, composed of a ring of twelve to fifteen awn-tipped carpels, splitting at the top when ripe and each containing three to nine seeds, which are rounded kidney-shaped, grayish brown, slightly rough, about one-eighth of an inch long. These seeds are shaken from the carpels by winter winds and blown for long distances over crusted snow.

Requires full sun or part day shade and a fertile well-drained soil. Tolerates a pH in the range 5 to 8.2. This species is cultivated for its fibre in China and Russia where it succeeds as far north as latitude 56°n in W. Siberia. It is hardier and more disease-resistant than Jute (Corchorus spp.). Introduced to N. America in the eighteenth century, it has become a pestilential weed in many parts of the country.

Seed – sow early April in a greenhouse. Germination should take place within 2 – 3 weeks. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in May or June, after the last expected frosts. An outdoor sowing in April to early May in situ could also be tried, especially in those areas with warm summers.

Edible Uses:-
Edible Parts: Fruit; Seed.

Seeds – raw or cooked. They can be eaten raw when they are under-ripe. The ripe seed is dried and ground into a powder then used in soups, bread etc. It is washed first to remove any bitterness. The seed contains about 17.4% protein, 16% fat, 33.8% carbohydrate, 4.4% ash. Unripe fruit – raw. This is really more of a seedpod[K].

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.

Seed (Fresh weight)
0 Calories per 100g
*Water: 0%
*Protein: 17.4g; Fat: 16g; Carbohydrate: 33.8g; Fibre: 0g; Ash: 4.4g;
*Minerals – Calcium: 0mg; Phosphorus: 0mg; Iron: 0mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
*Vitamins – A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;

Medicinal Uses:-
Astringent; Demulcent; Diuretic; Emollient; Laxative; Ophthalmic; Poultice; Stomachic.

Ophthalmic. Used in the treatment of dysentery and opacity of the cornea. The leaves contain 0.01% rutin and are used as a demulcent. A tea made from the dried leaves is used in the treatment of dysentery and fevers. A poultice of the leaves is applied to ulcers. The bark is astringent and diuretic. A tea made from the dried root is used in the treatment of dysentery and urinary incontinence. It is also used to treat fevers. The seed is powdered and eaten in the treatment of dysentery, stomach-aches etc. It is demulcent, diuretic, emollient, laxative and stomachic.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Other Uses:-
Fibre; Oil; Paper.

A fibre obtained from the stems is used as a jute substitute. It is coarse but flexible and strong. It is also used in rope-making. It takes dyes well. The fibre is also used for making paper, the stems are harvested in the summer, the leaves removed and the stems steamed in order to remove the fibres. The seeds contain about 19% of a semi-drying oil.