Tithonia diversifolia – tree marigold

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  • #14243


    Anyone want some cuttings of this plant, email me please, jacqui@madambutterfly.co.nz.

    I believe it is subtropical so not sure how it would do in cooler climates. Tithonia diversifolia is also known as Tree Marigold, Mexican tournesol, Mexican sunflower or Nitobe chrysanthemum. One cutting did very well for me, and it has become quite a ‘shrub, providing shelter as well as nectar for butterflies.


    This is a species of plant in the Asteraceae family now distributed in tropical and subtropical areas such as Central America, Southeast Asia and Africa. Depending on the area they may be either annual or perennial, two to three metres in height with upright and sometimes ligneous stalks in the form of woody shrubs. The flowers are bright yellow-orange. It is widely accepted that they were at one stage native to Central America or Mexico, hence the name.

    This plant has been shown to be a high quality nutrient resource of phosphorous when used as a green mulch

    In Japan, towards the end of the Meiji Period, they were imported as ornamental plants although seldom cultivated there. Having a characteristic bitter taste, they were used to induce a fever to help fight poisoning, although not used for direct medicinal purposes. There is also the story of the species being introduced to Japan by Nitobe Inazo, hence its Japanese name, the Nitobe chrysanthemum.

    In Mexico, they are used to treat sprains, bone fractures, bruises and contusions.

    In Southern China they are used to treat skin diseases (such as athlete’s foot), night sweats, as a diuretic, hepatitis, jaundice and cystitis. They are sold in herbal medicine markets in Taiwan to be infused to improve liver function.

    It is the provincial flower of Mae Hong Son Province, Thailand and the unofficial symbol of Da Lat city, Vietnam.

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  • #50990

    Dane Keriboi Hawker

    I have 5 of these grown from cuttings at christmas. They are 8ft tall but only one has flowered but the monarchs love it!!!
    Anyone else growing them ?



    Hi Judi – yes please send the photograph to photos@monarch.org.nz, with a commentary. Thanks.

    I’m not sure about it becoming invasive in NZ. I don’t know if it sets seed, and I guess if people “dumped” it it might grow and become a problem – like Agapanthis does in our neck of the wood, people haul it off to the dump and there are plants growing all along beside the road(s) as bits have fallen off their trailers/trays etc.




    Hi Jacqui..what about the invasive plant – could this end up on the baddies list or are we too cool for that!?
    “Rapid vegetative reproduction and significant production of lightweight seeds allow Tithonia diversifolia to quickly invade disturbed habitats. In forming dense stands, it prevents the growth of young native plants. Tithonia diversifolia is invasive in some parts of Africa and Australia and in many Pacific islands.”
    from Global Invasive Species Database.
    ps – busy summer with four ‘batches’ totaling roughly 300 🙂
    Plants moved inside in the middle of summer in ‘wasp season’ (have now 40 swan plants 🙁 …& no $s! learning how to sow seeds is next on the list! – most interesting was brown beetle having skewered cater about 3 times its size & dragging it down plant – have a photo if youre interested

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