Common name:Mexican sunflower
Scientific name:Tithonia diversifolia
Alternative common names:
Mexikaanse sonneblom (Afrikaans)
Mexican sunflower is an annual or perennial shrub which may be woody at the base and grows 1,5-3,5m high. The leaves are deeply lobed and five-fingered, up to 150mm long and 120mm wide. They are pale velvety below. The flowers are large and striking yellow, up to 100mm across, growing solitary on long stalks. Several may occur together in branched clusters and appear in autumn from April to June.
Where does this species come from?Central America, particularly Mexico.
What is its invasive status in South Africa?CARA Category 1; NEMBA Category 1b
Where in South Africa is it a problem?Warmer climates in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
How does it spread?Seed dispersal.
Why is it a problem?A fast-growing and aggressive weed which competes against indigenous plants.
What does it look like?Annual or perennial shrub which may be woody at the base. 1,5-3,5m high. Leaves:Deeply lobed five-fingered leaves up to 150mm long and 120mm wide. Pale velvety below. Flowers:Large striking yellow flowers up to 100mm across. Solitary on long stalks. Several may occur together in branched clusters. Flowers appear in autumn from April to June. Fruit/seeds:Brown achenes (dry, hard fruits) occurring in a round, spiky mass.
Does the plant have any uses?Oronamental, but now highly invasive.