It grows to 1 m tall, and has velvet-like heart-shaped leaves 15–25 cm broad. The flowers are yellow or orange, 4 cm diameter, maturing into button-shaped capsules which split lengthwise to release the seeds. The flowers and plants have a fruity scent. Velvetleaf has been grown in China since around 2000 BCE for its strong, jute-like fibre. The leaves are edible, stir-fried or in omelette. The seeds are eaten in China and Kashmir.