Plants of
South Australia
Abutilon otocarpum
Desert Lantern
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 2.


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. Otocarpum from the Greek 'otos' meaning ear and 'carpos' meaning fruit; referring to the fruitlets which are rounded at the top and ear-shaped.

Distribution and status

Found across South Australia except for the coastal areas and the South-east. Also found in all mainland states. Native. Common in South Australia. rare in Victoria. Common in the other states.
Herbarium regions: North Western, Lake Eyre, Nullarbor, Gairdner-Torrens, Flinders Ranges, Eastern, Eyre Peninsula, Northern Lofty, Murray
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Alinytjara Wilurara, Eyre Peninsula, South Australian Arid Lands, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Small compact or erect shrub to 60 cm high, covered with a dense velvety hairs. Leaves thick, ovate and covered in velvety hairs. inflorescence solitary in upper axils with large yellow flowers. Flowers throughout the year. Fruits are papery capsule to 10 mm diameter composed of 10-20 pubescent fruitlets which are rounded at the top and ear-shaped. Seeds are dark brown reniform seed to 3 mm long with a wrinkled surface. 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 hard brown 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. From one collection, the seed viability was high, at 90%. 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
10,500 (20.9 g)
10,500 (20.9 g)
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.