Tithonia rotundifolia

Last updated

Tithonia rotundifolia
Tithonia rotundifolia kz2.jpg
Scientific classification OOjs UI icon edit-ltr.svg
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Tithonia
T. rotundifolia
Binomial name
Tithonia rotundifolia
(Mill.) S.F. Blake

Tithonia rotundifolia, [1] the red sunflower or Mexican sunflower, is a plant in the family Asteraceae, which is native to the warmer and moister parts of North America.



Monarch butterfly flying away from a Mexican sunflower Monarch butterfly flying away from a Mexican sunflower.jpg
Monarch butterfly flying away from a Mexican sunflower

Plants are perennial in the native habitat, up to 4 m tall with orange or red flowers (in cultivation only 0.8 to 1.5 meters). In USDA zones cooler than Zone 10 it is an annual. Leaves, despite the epithet, are deltoid to lanceolate, occasionally lobed (or broadly heart-shaped) up to 38 cm long and 30 cm wide, with subentire, crenate or serrated margin. The lower ones are usually three-lobed. The petiole is up to 40 centimeters long. The upper side of the leaves is gray, the underside is hairy. [2]


The flower heads have a diameter of 5 to 8 (rarely up to 10) centimeters. The ray flowers are vermilion red and broadly egg-shaped. The disc flowers are golden yellow and are generally solitary, long-pedunculated head, with a campanulate to hemispherical involucrum. There are 12 to 16 bracts, the outer ones being pointed. The flowers are used by many insects as a nectar source including migrating monarch butterflies. The fruit is a turbinado-quadrangular cypsel less than 1 cm long, brown or black, with two unequal deciduous wings. [3]


It occurs in Florida, Louisiana, Mexico, Central America and the West Indies on fields, in woody plants and ruderally at altitudes below 1000 meters on the edges of roads and highways, as well as in other disturbed areas. Outside its native region it is sometimes grown as an ornamental and has become naturalized in some of these locales. In Africa it has been recorded up to an altitude of 1,580 m above sea level. [4]


Due to its characteristics, it is usually used in hedges to form a background for other smaller plants. It requires poor to average, well-drained soil in an area protected from the wind to prevent its brittle stems from bending or breaking. It is propagated from seeds. Seedlings are planted 30–50 centimeters apart. It requires a sunny plant site and fresh, nutrient-rich soil with plenty of humus. It tolerates drought well, but it still needs water during long periods of drought. Titonia usually blooms from summer until the first frosts. [5]


Related Research Articles

<i>Tagetes</i> Genus of flowering plant

Tagetes is a genus of 50 species of annual or perennial, mostly herbaceous plants in the family Asteraceae. They are among several groups of plants known in English as marigolds. The genus Tagetes was described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753.

<i>Helianthus</i> Genus of flowering plants, the sunflowers

Helianthus is a genus comprising about 70 species of annual and perennial flowering plants in the daisy family Asteraceae commonly known as sunflowers. Except for three South American species, the species of Helianthus are native to North America and Central America. The best-known species is the common sunflower. This and other species, notably Jerusalem artichoke, are cultivated in temperate regions and some tropical regions, as food crops for humans, cattle, and poultry, and as ornamental plants. The species H. annuus typically grows during the summer and into early fall, with the peak growth season being mid-summer.

<i>Eriophyllum lanatum</i> Species of flowering plant

Eriophyllum lanatum, with the common names common woolly sunflower, Oregon sunshine and golden yarrow, is a common, widespread, North American plant in the family Asteraceae.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Heliantheae</span> Tribe of sunflower plants

The Heliantheae are the third-largest tribe in the sunflower family (Asteraceae). With some 190 genera and nearly 2500 recognized species, only the tribes Senecioneae and Astereae are larger. The name is derived from the genus Helianthus, which is Greek for sun flower. Most genera and species are found in North America and South America. A few genera are pantropical.

<i>Tagetes erecta</i> Species of flowering plant

Tagetes erecta, the Aztec marigold, Mexican marigold, big marigold, cempaxochitl or cempasúchil, is a species of flowering plant in the genus Tagetes native to Mexico, Guatemala and Peru. Despite being native to the Americas, it is often called the African marigold. In Mexico, this plant is found in the wild in the states of México, Michoacán, Puebla, Veracruz and Guerrero.

<i>Helenium</i> Genus of flowering plants in the daisy family Asteraceae

Helenium is a genus of annuals and herbaceous perennial plants in the family Asteraceae, native to the Americas.

<i>Rosa chinensis</i> Species of flowering plant

Rosa chinensis, known commonly as the China rose, Chinese rose, or Bengal rose, is a member of the genus Rosa native to Southwest China in Guizhou, Hubei, and Sichuan Provinces. The first publication of Rosa chinensis was in 1768 by Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquin in Observationum Botanicarum, 3, p. 7 & plate 55.

<i>Tithonia diversifolia</i> Species of flowering plant

Tithonia diversifolia is a species of flowering plant in the family Asteraceae that is commonly known as the tree marigold, Mexican tournesol, Mexican sunflower, Japanese sunflower or Nitobe chrysanthemum. It is native to Mexico and Central America but has a nearly pantropical distribution as an introduced species. Depending on the area they may be either annual or perennial. It has shown great potential in raising the soil fertility in soils depleted in nutrients.

<i>Bougainvillea glabra</i> Species of vine

Bougainvillea glabra, the lesser bougainvillea or paperflower, is the most common species of bougainvillea used for bonsai. The epithet 'glabra' comes from Latin and means "bald".

<i>Geraea canescens</i> Species of flowering plant

Geraea canescens, commonly known as desert sunflower, hairy desert sunflower, or desert gold, is an annual plant in the family Asteraceae. The genus name comes from the Greek geraios, referring to the white hairs on the fruits.

<i>Encelia californica</i> Species of flowering plant

Encelia californica is a species of flowering plant in the family Asteraceae known by the common name California brittlebush. It is also commonly referred to as California coast sunflower and California bush sunflower.

<i>Tithonia</i> Genus of flowering plants

Tithonia is a genus of flowering plants in the tribe Heliantheae within the family Asteraceae.

<i>Geraea viscida</i> Species of flowering plant

Geraea viscida is a species of flowering plant in the family Asteraceae known by the common name sticky geraea, or sticky desertsunflower. It is native to southern California, mainly the chaparral hills of eastern San Diego County, and nearby Baja California.

<i>Cirsium rhothophilum</i> Species of thistle

Cirsium rhothophilum is a rare North American species of thistle known by the common name surf thistle. It is endemic to California, where it is known only from the coastline around the border between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties. It grows in sand dunes and coastal scrub near the beach.

<i>Encelia actoni</i> Species of flowering plant

Encelia actoni, also known by the common names Acton brittlebush and Acton encelia, is a species of flowering plant in the family Asteraceae.

<i>Eriophyllum pringlei</i> Species of flowering plant

Eriophyllum pringlei is a North American species of flowering plant in the family Asteraceae known by the common name Pringle's woolly sunflower. It is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, where it grows in several types of desert, canyon, and hillside habitat, such as chaparral and sagebrush.


Simsia is a genus of flowering plants in the tribe Heliantheae within the family Asteraceae. It includes annuals, herbaceous perennials, and shrubs. They range from the western United States south through Central and South America to Argentina, with the center of diversity occurring in Mexico. The genus is named for British physician and botanist John Sims (1749–1831). Although some species are relatively rare, others have become common weeds that line the roadsides and fields of Mexico, often forming dense stands mixed with Tithonia and other Asteraceae. Some species are known by the common name bushsunflower.

<i>Senecio spartioides</i> Species of flowering plant

Senecio spartioides is a species of flowering plant in the aster family known by the common name broom-like ragwort. It is native to the western United States as far east as the Dakotas and Texas, and northern Mexico. It can be found in dry, rocky, often disturbed areas in a number of habitat types. It is a subshrub which can exceed a meter in height, its arching stems growing from a woody-topped taproot. The leaves are linear in shape and up to 10 centimeters long. The leaves usually have smooth, unlobed edges, but slightly lobed leaves are seen at times. The leaves are evenly distributed along the stems, the ones low on the stems withering away early, giving the plant a naked appearance on the lower half while the top is still lush green and blooming. The inflorescences are spreading, flat-topped arrays of many cylindrical flower heads. The heads contain yellow disc florets and generally either 5 or 8 ray florets each about a centimeter long.

<i>Galearis rotundifolia</i> Species of orchid

Galearis rotundifolia is a species of flowering plants in the orchid family, Orchidaceae. It is commonly called roundleaf orchis and small round-leaved orchid. It is a succulent perennial herb native to North America, where it occurs throughout Canada, part of the northern United States, and Greenland.

<i>Tagetes lemmonii</i> Species of shrub

Tagetes lemmonii, or Lemmon's marigold, is a North American species of shrubby marigold, in the family Asteraceae. Other English names for this plant include Copper Canyon daisy, mountain marigold, and Mexican marigold.


  1. Blake, Contributions of the Gray Herbarium 52: 41. 1917
  2. Eckehart J. Jäger, Friedrich Ebel, Peter Hanelt, Gerd K. Müller (eds.): Rothmaler - Excursion Flora of Germany. Volume 5: Herbaceous ornamental and useful plants . Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg 2008, ISBN 978-3-8274-0918-8 .
  3. Flora of North America, vol 21, p 39. 2006.
  4. Hyde, Mark; et al. "Tithonia rotundifolia (Mill.) S.F. Blake". Flora of Zimbabwe. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  5. Mexican sunflower, Tithonia rotundifolia Wisconsin Horticulture. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  6. Miller, Garden Dictionary ed. 8, Tagetes no. 4. 1768.
  7. Hooker, Botanical Magazine 61, t 3295. 1834.
  8. A.H.R. Griesbach. 1866. Catalogus plantarum cubensium.