Time of bloom: July to October.
Seed-time: August to November.
Range: Maine to South Dakota, southward to Florida and Texas.
Also on the Pacific Slope. Habitat: Rich soil; cultivated ground, farm yards, waste places.
Once established and allowed to mature fruit, this is a most persistent weed, for the seed has been known to survive in the soil for more than fifty years. The inner bark of the plant yields a fine, strong fiber which may be made into twine, rope, or paper, whence the name of American Jute; but this is a misnomer, for the plant is a native of Asia, where it is cultivated for its fiber. (Fig. 193.)
Stem stout, erect, round, softly hairy, three to six feet in height, and branching widely. Leaves alternate, pointed-heart-shaped, three inches to nearly a foot broad, velvety above and below with a dense coat of exceedingly fine, soft hair; petioles slender and nearly as long as the blades. Flowers solitary in the axils, each about a half-inch broad, with five yellow petals and a velvety green, five-lobed calyx, many stamens, united in a ring around the several pistils which are also united at the base, but distinct above, projecting beyond the stamens. The compound seed-vessel is much larger than the flower, being about an inch broad, composed of a ring of twelve to fifteen awn-tipped carpels, splitting at the top when ripe and each containing three to nine seeds, which are rounded kidney-shaped, grayish brown, slightly rough, about one-eighth of an inch long. These seeds are shaken from the carpels by winter winds and blown for long distances over crusted snow.
Cut or pull the plants while in early bloom. Seedlings that bloom late, even after corn is harvested, may produce enough seed to foul the ground; plants bearing unripe seed-vessels should be burned, as they will ripen on the stalks.