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Useful Tropical Plants

Tithonia diversifolia

(Hemsl.) A.Gray

Asteraceae

+ Synonyms

Helianthus quinquelobus Sessé & Moc.

Mirasolia diversifolia Hemsl.

Tithonia triloba Sch.Bip. ex Klatt

Urbanisol tagetiflora diversifolius (Hemsl.) Kuntze

Urbanisol tagetiflora flavus Kuntze

Urbanisol tagetiflora grandiflorus Kuntze

Urbanisol tagetifolius grandiflorus Kuntze

Common Name: Mexican Sunflower

Tithonia diversifolia
Flowering plant in Hawaii
Photograph by: Forest and Kim Starr
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0
Tithonia diversifolia Tithonia diversifolia Tithonia diversifolia Tithonia diversifolia Tithonia diversifolia Tithonia diversifolia

General Information

Mexican sunflower is a robust plant that can vary significantly in habit. Sometimes an unbranched or sparsely-branched annual, it can also be a short-lived perennial, or the plant can become shrub-like with more or less woody stems. It can grow from 1 - 5 metres tall[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/
].
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and fuel. It is sometimes grown as a companion plant, helping to improve the soil and increasing the yields of a range of crops. It is also often grown as an ornamental.

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/

Range

C. America - Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, Mexico.

Habitat

Damp thickets or dry, brushy slopes, at elevations from 200 - 2,300 metres in Guatemala[
331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/
].

Properties

Weed PotentialYes
Medicinal Rating *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitAnnual/Perennial
Height3.00 m
PollinatorsInsects
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant of the tropics and subtropics, it can also be grown as a summer annual in temperate areas. It the tropics it can be found at elevations from 200 - 2,300 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 15 - 31°c, but can tolerate 12 - 38°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 - 2,000mm, but tolerates 700 - 2,500mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Succeeds in any well-drained, moderately fertile soil in a sunny position[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Plants are moderately drought-resistant[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Commonly grown as an ornamental, the plant has escaped from cultivation and become a weed in many areas of the tropics and subtropics[
360
Title
Philippine Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.stuartxchange.org/CompleteList.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A lovely site, giving brief details on the medicinal uses of several hundred (over 400 at the last count) plants in the Philippines, plus a picture of each plant.
].
The plant can flower and produce seed all year round[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal

Various studies have been carried out into the medicinal properties of this plant:-
A methanol extract of the dried leaves reduced pain levels and inhibited oedema and granuloma, confirming the plants traditional use in the treatment of painful inflammatory conditions[
360
Title
Philippine Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.stuartxchange.org/CompleteList.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A lovely site, giving brief details on the medicinal uses of several hundred (over 400 at the last count) plants in the Philippines, plus a picture of each plant.
].
The leaves contain sesquiterpene lactones, including tagitinin ,which possess insecticidal properties. A study showed it possessed antimicrobial activity, active against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, suggesting that the leaves can be used in treating gastrointestinal infections, skin diseases and urinary tract infections[
360
Title
Philippine Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.stuartxchange.org/CompleteList.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A lovely site, giving brief details on the medicinal uses of several hundred (over 400 at the last count) plants in the Philippines, plus a picture of each plant.
].
An 80% ethanol extract of the leaves showed reduction of blood glucose levels 3 weeks after a single oral dose, also significantly lowering plasma insulin, decreasing blood glucose in an insulin tolerance test. The results suggest it may be useful in the treatment of type2 diabetes[
360
Title
Philippine Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.stuartxchange.org/CompleteList.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A lovely site, giving brief details on the medicinal uses of several hundred (over 400 at the last count) plants in the Philippines, plus a picture of each plant.
].
Aqueous and methanolic extracts of the plant had 50% and 74% clearing of malarial parasites respectively, compared to 100% for chloroquine. It was more effective when administered at the onset of the infection, suggesting a time-dependency of the anti-malarial effects[
369
Title
Flora of Costa Rica
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C.
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
Field Museum of Natural History; Chicago
Year
1938
ISBN
 
Description
Rather dated, but an excellent treatment of the area. Available for download from the internet.
].
A 70% methanol extract showed a dose- and time-dependent toxic effect on the kidney and liver toxicity. Although reversible, it raises concern over the safety of the use of the plant extract against malaria[
360
Title
Philippine Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.stuartxchange.org/CompleteList.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A lovely site, giving brief details on the medicinal uses of several hundred (over 400 at the last count) plants in the Philippines, plus a picture of each plant.
].
The leaves contain a bitter essential oil[
331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/
].

A decoction of the leaves is sometimes used in the treatment of malaria[
331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/
]. An infusion of leaves is used in the treatment of constipation, stomach pains, indigestion, sore throat and liver pains[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. The leaves should be ground into small pieces, mixed with water, and then drunk[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]
Leaf extracts are used externally for the treatment of wounds and haematomas[
360
Title
Philippine Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.stuartxchange.org/CompleteList.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A lovely site, giving brief details on the medicinal uses of several hundred (over 400 at the last count) plants in the Philippines, plus a picture of each plant.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

The plant is used for soil improvement and has a positive effect on crop yields. Yields of maize, kale, French beans, tomatoes and Napier grass all increased when they were planted with this species[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]
Planted as a living fence[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Other Uses

A bitter, essential oil is extracted from the leaves[
331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/
]. It has a repellent activity on the mosquito Anapholes gambiae, and a smaller, but still significant, action on other species of mosquito[
360
Title
Philippine Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.stuartxchange.org/CompleteList.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A lovely site, giving brief details on the medicinal uses of several hundred (over 400 at the last count) plants in the Philippines, plus a picture of each plant.
].
Sesquiterpene lactones, such as tagitinin, found in the leaves have been shown to possess insecticidal properties[
1382
Title
In-Vitro Efficacy of Certain Essential Oils and Plant Extracts against Three Major Pathogens of Jatropha curcas L.
Publication
American Journal of Plant Sciences, 2015, 6, 362-365
Author
Purnajyoti Deka Bhuyan; Phatik Tamuli; Paran Boruah
Website
http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ajps.2015.62041
Publisher
 
Year
2015
ISBN
 
Description
 
].

An ethanol extraction of the leaves has been shown to be an effective fungicide in treating pathogenic fungi on the cultivated plant Jatropha curcas[
1382
Title
In-Vitro Efficacy of Certain Essential Oils and Plant Extracts against Three Major Pathogens of Jatropha curcas L.
Publication
American Journal of Plant Sciences, 2015, 6, 362-365
Author
Purnajyoti Deka Bhuyan; Phatik Tamuli; Paran Boruah
Website
http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ajps.2015.62041
Publisher
 
Year
2015
ISBN
 
Description
 
].

The stems are used as fuel[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Propagation

Seed - sow in situ.
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2019-10-15. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Tithonia+diversifolia>

Comments

Macharia A K 31st January 2016 7:15
This plant has many other uses including source of plant nutrient P, N, K . Also used as termite control. also used as a fodder for livestock.
Gabriel Kolly 26th February 2016 21:14
How can Tithonia be converted to a granular fertilizer?

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