12. Abutilon Miller, Gard. Dict. Abr. ed. 4. vol. 1. 1754.
Indian-mallow [probably Arabic abu, father of, and Persian tula or tulha, mallow] Indian-mallow [probably Arabic abu, father of, and Persian tula or tulha, mallow]
Paul A. Fryxell
Steven R. Hill
Subshrubs, shrubs, or herbs. Stems erect, sometimes trailing (A. parvulum) or procumbent or ascending (A. wrightii), glabrescent or pubescent, sometimes viscid (A. hirtum, A. reventum, A. trisulcatum). Leaves: stipules usually persistent, subulate, lanceolate, or filiform; blade elliptic, ovate, [cordiform], sometimes shallowly lobed, but not maplelike [sometimes [sometimes umbellate]; involucel absent. Flowers: calyx not accrescent (except A. hulseanum, A. hypoleucum, A. palmeri, and A. wrightii), not inflated, not completely enclosing fruit, lobes not ribbed, lanceolate, ovate, cordate, or acuminate; corolla usually yellow or orange, less often pinkish, sometimes with dark red center; staminal column included or exserted; ovules 3(–6) per carpel; style 5–25-branched; stigmas sometimes black, capitate. Fruits schizocarps, erect, not inflated, globose, ovoid, oblate, cask-shaped, or cylindric, usually not indurate, variably hairy but not setose; mericarps 5–25, 1-celled follicle, adherent to adjacent mericarps and persistent on their axes, without dorsal spur, apex usually acute or acuminate to spinescent, sometimes rounded or obtuse, abaxially dehiscent. Seeds usually 3–6 per mericarp, usually turbinate, puberulent or scabridulous. x = 7, 8.
Species ca. 160 (18 in the flora): United States, Mexico, West Indies, Central America, South America, Asia, Africa, Australia.
Abutilon is mostly tropical and subtropical with relatively few species reaching into fully temperate climates.
The South American native Abutilon megapotamicum (A. Sprengel) A. Saint-Hilaire & Naudin (= A. vexillarium E. Morren) is sometimes grown as a basket plant in colder regions and perhaps in the open in frost-free areas; it is not naturalized in the flora area. Another South American species, A. striatum Dickson ex Lindley [= A. pictum (Gillies ex Hooker) Walpers], has been widely introduced elsewhere as an ornamental and is naturalized in some tropical countries. This species is grown in North American gardens as a perennial in warmer climates and an annual in colder ones, but is not known to be naturalized in the flora area. Abutilon indicum (Linnaeus) Sweet has been said to be naturalized in southern Florida (L. H. Bailey et al. 1976); its occurrence in the flora area has not been substantiated. This species has an Indo-Australian origin (J. van Borssum Waalkes 1966) and is naturalized in the West Indies. Abutilon grandifolium (Willdenow) Sweet is sometimes cultivated and may escape.
Outside North America, plants of Abutilon may be arborescent, and their corollas may be of other colors although yellow or yellow-orange predominates.
SELECTED REFERENCES Fryxell, J. E. 1983. A revision of Abutilon sect. Oligocarpae (Malvaceae), including a new species from Mexico. Madroño 30: 84–92. Fryxell, P. A. 2002. An Abutilon nomenclator. Lundellia 5: 79–118. Kearney, T. H. 1955. A tentative key to the North American species of Abutilon Miller. Leafl. W. Bot. 7: 241–254.