This week’s Wildflower Wednesday feature flower is the Velvetleaf.
Velvetleaf is a nonnative plant with small yellow flowers and velvet soft leaves often found on roadsides and along agricultural fields.
It was introduced to America in the 18th century and has since become one of the most detrimental plants to American agriculture. It was brought here to be grown and harvested for its fiber, specifically to make ropes for ships. Since that time, it has become invasive, causing millions of dollars a year in crop damage.
Velvetleaf is an extremely competitive plant that steals nutrients and water from surrounding plants. One plant can produce up to 17,000 seeds that can remain viable for over 50 years making it very difficult to eradicate.
Is it still grown as a fiber crop in China and is used in Chinese medicine to treat dysentery, eye injuries and stomach aches.
According to Chinese Medicine legend, “velvetleaf was demoted to the man's world because of its poor appearance. However, the goddess of the moon felt that velvetleaf was extremely ambitious, and so she always took care of it with the brilliance of the moon. Velvetleaf worked harder and wanted to repay the world on its own, so it became a superior ingredient in Chinese medicine.”
Sometimes called the “Toilet paper” plant, when nature calls, Velvetleaf makes exceptional natural toilet paper.