Plants of
South Australia
Abutilon leucopetalum
Desert Chinese-lantern
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 4.


Abutilon from the Arabic 'aubutilun' used for mallow-like plant and quoted by the Arabian physician Avicenna as belonging to this or some allied genus. Leucopetalum from the Greek 'leucos' meaning white and 'petalum' meaning petal; possibly referring to the corolla which are yellow but white when dried.

Distribution and status

Found in the northern part of South Australia, growing on rocky hill slopes, on ridges and creek beds. Also found in Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales. Native. Common in South Australia. Common in the other states.
Herbarium regions: North Western, Lake Eyre, Nullarbor, Gairdner-Torrens, Flinders Ranges, Eastern, Eyre Peninsula
NRM regions: Alinytjara Wilurara, Eyre Peninsula, South Australian Arid Lands
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Small shrub covered in short velvety and long spreading hairs. Leaves heart-shaped, to 8 cm long covered in velvety hairs, margins coarsely toothed. Inflorescence tubular with yellow flowers, turning white when dried. Flowering throughout the year. Fruits are brown capsule to 15 mm diameter with up to 10 angles. Seed embryo type is folded.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between January and December. Collect mature capsules, those that are turning pale straw colour and contain dark hard seeds. Place the capsules in a tray and leave to dry for two weeks. Then rub the capsules gently by hand to dislodge the seeds. Use a sieve to separate the unwanted material. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place. This species has physical dormancy that needs to be overcome for the seed to germinate (e.g. nicking or softening the seed coat).

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
BGA7,900 (21.47 g)50+8-Apr-2011KHB574
Flinders Ranges
Location: BGA — the seeds are stored at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, MSB — the seeds are stored at the Millennium Seed Bank, Kew, England.
Number of plants: This is the number of plants from which the seeds were collected.
Collection location: The Herbarium of South Australia's region name.
% Viability: Percentage of filled healthy seeds determined by a cut test or x-ray.