Velvetleaf grows 3 to 8 feet tall and is covered entirely with furlike, fine hair. The large, pointed, heart-shaped foliage is 2 to 12 inches wide. The summer annual blooms with five-petaled, 1-inch flowers that grow singly or in clusters. Velvetleaf produces cup-shaped pods filled with two to nine, gray-brown, 1/8-inch seeds.
The tough, fibrous stems of the plant have been used to make rugs and paper in China since 2000 B.C. The plant also was used for making fishing nets, rope and twine in China. The seeds were used as a food item in India and China.
Velvetleaf is among the major cropland weeds in the U.S. and thrives in the fertile soil of cattle yards and feeding lots. The plant also spreads in vacant lots, roadsides and cultivated gardens. Velvetleaf is particularly troublesome in corn and soybeans. The plant does not grow well at higher elevations and areas with dry climates.