Kenya Natural History Guide >>> Plants >>> Composites/Asteraceae >>> Mexican Sunflower

Mexican Sunflower

Tithonia diversifolia ?

Mexican Sunflower, prob. Tithonia diversifolia, photo © by Michael Plagens

Large bright yellow daisy-sunflowers in a garden at Naiberi River Camp, Rift Valley, Kenya. 14 October 2010.

This is an introduced horticultural plant that may be encountered as a weed in natural environments. Both the ray and disc flowers are yellow-orange in color and the heads are supported on a peduncle (stem) that is hollow indside. Under ideal conditions the plants will become shrub-like with many showy flowers and reaching two to three meters in height. The large leaves are typically three-lobed, but as the Latin name suggests, a variety of leaf shapes are to be expected. There are a number of Tithonia species, all originating in the Neotropics, that might be other varieties and hybrids planted in Kenyan gardens.

As with many non-native plants, herbivorous insects are few. Thus these plants do not contribute much to the ecology of native insectivorous birds and reptiles. Using these plants in natural gardens should therefore be discouraged.

Asteraceae -- Sunflower Family

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 9 Nov. 2011