Abutilon Mill.

Lantern Flowers

Les Marshall

The Arabic name for a mallow-like plant.

Soft-wooded shrubs, perennial or annual herbs. Leaves simple, alternate, entire or with 3, 5 or 7 lobes, mostly cordate at the base. Flowers axillary, single or in clusters, without basal bracts (epicalyx); mostly on long stalks with a small articulation, not always easy to see, on the flower stalk just below the flower. Sepals 5, fused at the base. Petals 5, sometimes strongly veined. Staminal column divided into many filaments at the tip. Ovary chambers more than 5. Fruit dry, splitting into individual carpels (schizocarp) with parts in a single whorl, each with 2-9 seeds in a single row.

A genus that once enjoyed considerable popularity with many cultivars that are no longer available.

A. ×suntense Brickell (A. ochensenii × A. vitifolium) is an evergreen vigorous shrub or small tree 5-6 m tall with leaves like A. vitifolium. Flowers in 3s, open, bright mauve-blue with a pale centre.

A. theophrasti Medik. is an environmental weed of SA, NSW and Vic that grows well in moist places.

Seed or cuttings.

A. theophrasti is a fibre plant much used in China.

Flowers mostly hanging down and shaped like an electric light bulb, the petals being curved inwards towards the tip, the flower stalk has a distinct articulation.

OPCA collections in Victoria are held by Les Marshall at Hamilton Bot. Gdns and Laurie Koelmeyer at Beacon Gardens, Glen Waverley.

About 120 species tropical, sub-tropical and warm-temperate (Australia has about 30 native species distributed in all mainland states).

Marshall (1991).

Source: Marshall, L. (1997). Abutilon. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

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kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Rosanae
order      Malvales
family       Malvaceae
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