Abutilon oxycarpum

Flannel weed, Straggly Lantern-bush, Small-leaved Abutilon, Swamp Chinese-lantern, Chingma lantern

Family: Malvaceae

Abutilon oxycarpum is a soft-woody shrub growing up to 2 m tall.

It is found naturally on rocky hill slopes as well as creek banks in dry sclerophyll woodlands and forests; sometimes in rainforest, in all states of Australia with the exception of Tasmania.

In NSW, it grows on the coastal, tablelands and western slopes, with most of its distribution north of Sydney (but also extending down south).

The leaves are heart-shaped, to 7 cm long and 2.5 cm wide, with fairly obvious veins and with a velvety texture. The leaf margins are toothed and slightly hairy and the stems are hairy. Some of the hairs are stellate (star-shaped – a typical feature of this plant (Hibiscus) family).

Solitary yellow flowers are produced, to about 15 mm in diameter, occurring at different times in each state or territory.

Fruits are star-shaped about 8 mm in diameter, consisting of mericarps which split apart, each having a long sharp awn, clothed in stellate hairs.

In the garden

Grows in full sun to partial shade on a wide range of soils.

Flowers attract bees and butterflies.

Many of these Malvaceae plants are worth growing for their general hibiscus-appearance and large flowers. They are considered to be ‘butterfly-plants’. They can self-seed in a garden, once established so just keep an eye on them.


From seed or stem cuttings.

Other information

Two varieties are known and are sometimes separated on the leaf shape and indumentum. However, these are not currently recognised in NSW.

Can be often mistaken for a weed due to it leaf shape and texture and overall appearance.

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

Abutilon is a genus of over 100 species, occurring in the tropics and subtropics of the world. There are native and exotic species in Australia. Australia has about 30 species, occurring in all mainland states. In NSW, there are currently 13 species including 3 weed species.

Abutilon – a word derived from Arabic meaning “mulberry” or possibly “maple”.

oxycarpum – from the Greek oksis (oξσύς) meaning “acute” (sharp) and carpum – from the Greek – karpos (Καρπός) meaning “fruit” – referring to the sharp awns on the mericarps which comprise the fruit.

This species is not known to be threatened with extinction in the wild.

Australian National Herbarium – Abutlion oxycarpum profile page

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Abutilon oxycarpum profile page        https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Abutilon~oxycarpum

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke