Velvetleaf is a summer annual that grows from seed each year, attaining heights of 1 to 5 feet (0.3 to 1.5 m). Mature plants are generally unbranched and have a strong taproot and sturdy stem that becomes woody at maturity.
The stem of velvetleaf is green, often with a purple tinge near the soil surface. It has a dense covering of short, soft hairs, some with microscopic glands. The seed leaves (cotyledons) on both surfaces are covered with short, velvety hairs. Main veins are evident on both leaf surfaces as lines originating from a common basal point. Leaf stalks are generally green, sometimes with a purple tinge.
Velvetleaf grows as a weed primarily in cropland, especially corn fields, and it can also be found on roadsides and in gardens. Velvetleaf prefers rich and cultivated soils, such as those used in agriculture.
Velvetleaf has been grown in China since around 2000 BCE for its strong, jute-like fibre. The leaves are edible, stir-fried or in omelette. The plant is known as maabulha in the Maldives and its leaves were part of the traditional Maldivian cuisine, usually finely chopped and mixed with Maldive fish and grated coconut in a dish known as mas huni.The seeds are eaten in China and Kashmir.
Chances are you won’t see this weed growing in your lawn, but it may pop up in your garden or in bare soil around the perimeter of the lawn, especially if you have a new house and starting a lawn from scratch.