Tithonia diversifolia (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsley) A. Gray

Family: Compositae


Mirasolia diversifolia Hemsley.

Vernacular names

  • Mexican sunflower (En)
  • Indonesia: harsaga, kembang mbulan (Javanese), srengenge leutik (Sundanese)
  • Thailand: daoruang-yipun, thantawan-nu, benchamat-nam (Bangkok).


Native to Mexico and Central America; introduced into most tropical countries, often naturalized.


Used as a green manure, for erosion control on steep roadsides and in tea plantations, as an impenetrable hedge plant, in fire-breaks, and as an ornamental. The wood is collected for fuel, e.g. in Java. The flower heads are used medicinally for wounds and bruises, and contain insecticidal substances.


Perennial shrub with subterranean stolons, up to 9 m tall. Leaves alternate, ovate, ovate-rhomboid, or ovate-oblong, 7-32 cm long, serrate, short-haired and minutely glandular. Inflorescence an axillary or terminal, solitary head, 6-14 cm in diameter, with both ray and tubular flowers; peduncle much thickened upwards; corolla yellow; anthers black with a yellow top; pappus consisting of a few scales and 2-3 awns. T. diversifolia occurs at (0-)200-1500 m altitude. It tolerates regular heavy pruning. In Ivory Coast, annual biomass yields of 60 t/ha have been obtained at cutting intervals of 4 months. The leaves have a nitrogen content of 4%. It sometimes becomes weedy.

Selected sources

8, 101, 148, 174.


M.S.M. Sosef & L.J.G. van der Maesen