Abutilon otocarpum

Desert Chinese Lantern

Family: Malvaceae

Abutilon otocarpum is a small shrub to about 0.7 metres tall, found on the western plains on NSW, in semi-arid conditions; on red sandy soils, sand rises and dunes. It is also found in all other mainland states in similar habitats.

Leaves to 6 cm long and are narrow to circular, hairy and toothed.

The flowers are yellow and solitary, with 5 petals, borne singly on stalks originating at the bases of the leaves, often appearing clustered at the ends of the stems and can occur all year.

Fruit are around 8 mm diameter and split into singular mericarps.

In the garden

A hardy plant if grown in similar environment to that naturally occurring ie drier climates with good drainage and full sun.


From seed or cuttings.

Other information

Used extensively by local fist nation people for food, fruit flesh, firewood, toys, implements, spears, shade or shelter, fish-poisons and traps.

Most Malvaceae members regenerate from seed after fire and after heavy rain.

Abutilon – a word derived from Arabic meaning “mulberry” or possibly “maple”.
otocarpum – Gk. oto – referring to ear and carpum – Latin for fruit – refeering to ear-shaped fruits (mericarps).

Not known to be threatened in the wild.


By Jeff Howes