Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Tithonia rotundifolia
(red sunflower)

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Datasheet

Tithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 21 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Tithonia rotundifolia
  • Preferred Common Name
  • red sunflower
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Tithonia rotundifolia is an herbaceous flowering plant that has been widely introduced as an ornamental and has escaped from cultivation to become invasive mostly in ruderal areas, roadsides and in disturbed si...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Tithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower); flowering habit. Warsaw University Botanical Garden, Poland. August 2016.
TitleFlowering habit
CaptionTithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower); flowering habit. Warsaw University Botanical Garden, Poland. August 2016.
Copyright©Krzysztof Ziarnek/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Tithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower); flowering habit. Warsaw University Botanical Garden, Poland. August 2016.
Flowering habitTithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower); flowering habit. Warsaw University Botanical Garden, Poland. August 2016.©Krzysztof Ziarnek/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0
Tithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower); flower and leaves. Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2009.
TitleFlower
CaptionTithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower); flower and leaves. Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2009.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Tithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower); flower and leaves. Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2009.
FlowerTithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower); flower and leaves. Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii, USA. August 2009.©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Tithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower); SEM of pollen grains.
TitlePollen grains
CaptionTithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower); SEM of pollen grains.
Copyright©Jasmin Stieger/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Tithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower); SEM of pollen grains.
Pollen grainsTithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower); SEM of pollen grains.©Jasmin Stieger/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Tithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower); seeds. Note scale.
TitleSeeds
CaptionTithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower); seeds. Note scale.
Copyright©Amada44/via wikipedia - CC BY 3.0
Tithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower); seeds. Note scale.
SeedsTithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower); seeds. Note scale.©Amada44/via wikipedia - CC BY 3.0
Tithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower);  seedlings.
TitleSeedlings
CaptionTithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower); seedlings.
CopyrightPublic Domain - Released by Amada44/via wikipedia - CC0
Tithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower);  seedlings.
SeedlingsTithonia rotundifolia (red sunflower); seedlings.Public Domain - Released by Amada44/via wikipedia - CC0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Tithonia rotundifolia (Mill.) S.F.Blake

Preferred Common Name

  • red sunflower

Other Scientific Names

  • Tagetes rotundifolia Mill.
  • Tithonia aristata Oersted
  • Tithonia speciosa (Hook.) Hook. ex Griseb.
  • Tithonia uniflora Desf. ex J.F.Gmel.
  • Urbanisol aristatus (Oerst.) Kuntze
  • Urbanisol heterophyllus (Griseb.) Kuntze
  • Urbanisol tagetiflora Kuntze
  • Verbesina szyszylowiczii (Kuntze) Hieron

International Common Names

  • English: giant Mexican sunflower; Mexican-sunflower; red marigold; shrub sunflower; tree marigold
  • Spanish: chilicacate; clavel de muerto; flor amarilla; jacalate ; margarita roja; varga amarga

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: girassol mexicano ; margarida-mexicana
  • Haiti: belle Vénus
  • Mexico: acahual; acaute de flor; tzum; zuum
  • Puerto Rico: escopeta

Summary of Invasiveness

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Tithonia rotundifolia is an herbaceous flowering plant that has been widely introduced as an ornamental and has escaped from cultivation to become invasive mostly in ruderal areas, roadsides and in disturbed sites near cultivation. In this species, traits such as its rapid growth rates, abundant production of seeds that are easily dispersed by wind, water and animals, and high germination and recruitment rates are contributing to its invasiveness and allow it to quickly invade new habitats and survive even under less favourable conditions. T. rotundifolia forms dense stands with negative impact on native biodiversity as they outcompete and displace native vegetation, alter natural regeneration and obstruct access to riverbanks (Mawela, 2014; BioNET-EAFRINET, 2018; ISSA, 2018).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Asterales
  •                         Family: Asteraceae
  •                             Genus: Tithonia
  •                                 Species: Tithonia rotundifolia

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The genus Tithonia comprises about 11-20 species with a centre of distribution in Mexico and Central America (Morales, 2000; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2018; The Plant List, 2018). Tithonia species are variable in life forms (i.e., herbs, shrubs, small trees), life span (including annuals, biennials and perennials) and their patterns of distribution ranges from widely distributed to restricted endemics (Morales, 2000). Two species, T. diversifolia and T. rotundifolia, are widely cultivated as ornamentals and have escaped to become invasive weeds in many tropical and subtropical areas around the world (Morales, 2000; Davidse et al., 2018).

Description

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Annual herb, up to 4 m tall. Stems at first densely pilosulous with short hairs, in age glabrate; leaves alternate, petiolate, the blades rather thin, ovate to triangular-ovate, mostly 7-20 cm long, acuminate, cuneate (or sometimes almost truncate) at the base and then contracted and decurrent on the petiole, simple or sometimes trilobate, the margins serrate, hispid-pilose on both surfaces, especially on the veins, scabrous, glandular-punctate beneath; heads long-pedunculate; involucres 2-3 cm broad; phyllaries biseriate, 1.5-2.5 cm long, subequal or graduate, the outer ones lance-oblong to ovate-oblong, acute or acuminate, finely pilosulous, the herbaceous apex often lax or reflexed, the inner phyllaries similar but usually shorter; ray flowers 9-13, the ligules golden yellow or orange, 2-3 cm long; disc flowers yellow, the corollas puberulent, about 9 mm long; pales acuminate to cuspidate, hispidulous above, 12-18 mm long; achenes more or less appressed-pilose or glabrous, 6-7 mm long; pappus awns 2, early deciduous, or those of the outermost flowers sometimes wanting, 3-6 mm long, the squamellae united nearly to the apex, irregularly dentate, about 2 mm long (Nash, 1976).

Plant Type

Top of page Annual
Broadleaved
Herbaceous
Seed propagated
Shrub

Distribution

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T. rotundifolia is native to Mexico and Central America. It has been widely introduced as an ornamental and is now naturalized across Africa, Asia, South America, the West Indies, the southern United States, and Australia (Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; GRIIS, 2018; USDA-ARS, 2018).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

BotswanaPresentIntroducedInvasiveWitt and Luke (2017); USDA-ARS (2018)
CameroonPresentIntroducedMuoghalu (2008)
Congo, Democratic Republic of thePresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2018)Naturalized
EswatiniPresentIntroducedWitt and Luke (2017); USDA-ARS (2018)
EthiopiaPresentIntroducedWitt and Luke (2017)
KenyaPresentIntroducedInvasiveWitt and Luke (2017); BioNET-EAFRINET (2018)
MalawiPresentIntroducedInvasiveWitt and Luke (2017); Muoghalu (2008)
MozambiquePresentIntroducedWitt and Luke (2017)
NamibiaPresentIntroducedWitt and Luke (2017)
NigeriaPresentIntroducedMuoghalu (2008)
SenegalPresentIntroducedNaturalizedUSDA-ARS (2018)Naturalized
South AfricaPresentIntroducedInvasiveWitt and Luke (2017); ISSA (2018)
TanzaniaPresentIntroducedInvasiveWitt and Luke (2017); BioNET-EAFRINET (2018)
UgandaPresentIntroducedInvasiveWitt and Luke (2017); BioNET-EAFRINET (2018)
ZambiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveWitt and Luke (2017); Muoghalu (2008)
ZimbabwePresentIntroducedInvasiveWitt and Luke (2017); Maroyi (2012)

Asia

ChinaPresent, LocalizedIntroducedInvasiveOu Jian et al. (2008)Xiamen, Fujian
-FujianPresentIntroducedInvasiveOu Jian et al. (2008)Listed as invasive in Xiamen
IndiaPresentIntroducedGRIIS (2018)
JapanPresentIntroducedGRIIS (2018)

Europe

BelgiumPresentIntroducedVerloove (2018)

North America

BelizePresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)
Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba
-SabaPresentIntroducedBroome et al. (2007)
Costa RicaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)
CubaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
El SalvadorPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedBroome et al. (2007)
GuatemalaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)
HaitiPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
HondurasPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)
MartiniquePresentIntroducedBroome et al. (2007)
MexicoPresentWitt and Luke (2017); USDA-ARS (2018)
NicaraguaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)
PanamaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2018)
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)Weed
Saint LuciaPresentIntroducedBroome et al. (2007)
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
United StatesPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS (2018)southeast
-FloridaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS (2018)
-LouisianaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS (2018)

Oceania

AustraliaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS (2018)
-New South WalesPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS (2018)
-QueenslandPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS (2018)

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS (2018)
BoliviaPresentIntroducedJørgensen et al. (2015)
BrazilPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS (2018)
-BahiaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedMagenta (2015)Naturalized
-Minas GeraisPresentIntroducedNaturalizedMagenta (2015)Naturalized
-ParanaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedMagenta (2015)Naturalized
-Rio de JaneiroPresentIntroducedNaturalizedMagenta (2015)Naturalized
-Santa CatarinaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedMagenta (2015)Naturalized
-Sao PauloPresentIntroducedNaturalizedMagenta (2015)Naturalized
PeruPresentIntroducedDavidse et al. (2018)
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS (2018)

History of Introduction and Spread

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T. rotundifolia has been widely introduced as an ornamental across tropical and subtropical regions of the world. In South Africa, T. rotundifolia was introduced in the early 1900s as an ornamental plant, but is abundance has been escalating over the past 12 years and now it is listed as invasive in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga provinces. Across South Africa, T. rotundifolia can be found invading protected areas, agricultural lands, urban and rural areas, areas near waterways, disturbed sites, railways and roadsides (Henderson 2007; Mawela, 2014). T. rotundifolia can also be found extensively naturalized across West and Southern Africa and is listed as invasive in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania (Muoghalu and Chuba, 2005; Muoghalu, 2008; BioNET-EAFRINET, 2018).

In the West Indies, the date of introduction of T. rotundifolia is unknown, but it was collected in the wild as early as 1885 in Puerto Rico, 1871 in the Dominican Republic, 1903 in Martinique, and 1904 in Cuba (US National Herbarium).

In Belgium, T. rotundifolia was first recorded in 2015 on the banks of the Schipdonk canal in Merendree. It was described as an exceptional and ephemeral escape. Plants probably germinated from soil contaminated with wild flower seed mixtures and birdseed. T. rotundifolia seems to be an exceptional alien in Europe (Verloove, 2018).

Risk of Introduction

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The likelihood of new introductions of T. rotundifolia is very high mainly because it is widely commercialized as an ornamental. As the rate of introduction of T. rotundifolia increases, and the plants growing in cultivation continue escaping and spreading, it becomes increasingly likely that further naturalizations and invasions of this species will occur.

Habitat

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T. rotundifolia can be found growing in damp to dry, open or brushy fields, rocky slopes, grasslands, forest edges, roadsides, agricultural lands and pastures, pond edges, riverbanks and secondary vegetation at elevations up to 1,700 m. It is also cultivated in gardens from where it often escapes (Nash, 1976; Liogier and Martorell, 2000; Mawela, 2014; BioNET-EAFRINET, 2018; Davidse et al., 2018).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural forests Present, no further details Natural
Natural forests Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Productive/non-natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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T. rotundifolia is a weed of beans, chickpeas, tomato, and maize plantations. It is also listed as a weed of apple orchards and citrus plantations (Villaseñor and Espinosa, 1998; Vibrans, 2009).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Cicer arietinum (chickpea)FabaceaeMain
Citrus spp.Main
Phaseolus (beans)FabaceaeMain
Solanum lycopersicum (tomato)SolanaceaeMain
Zea mays (maize)PoaceaeMain

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number reported for T. rotundifolia is 2n=34 (Jose and Mathew, 1995). Within its native distribution range, T. rotundifolia naturally hybridizes with Tithonia tubaeformis and the resulting hybrids show a mosaic of parental, intermediate and transgressive characters (Lopez-Caamal et al., 2013).

Reproductive Biology

T. rotundifolia reproduces sexually and plants produce a large number of seeds (113–120 seeds/capitulum). This species shows sporophytic incompatibility, and thus outcrossing is required (Muoghalu and Chuba, 2005; Lopez-Caamal et al., 2013). The flowers are visited and pollinated by insects including butterflies and bees (Ponder et al., 2013).

Physiology and Phenology

T. rotundifolia is a pioneer species very successful at colonizing disturbed sites, open grounds, abandoned farms and pastures, and disturbed sites along railways and roads (Henderson 2001). This species is monocarpic and in Mexico, it has been recorded flowering from September to March (McVaugh, 1984). In South Africa, flowering occurs from late summer and throughout autumn (Simelane et al., 2011). In Zambia, T. rotundifolia produces flowers in February and completes its life cycle: flowering, setting seeds and dying by the end of June (Muoghalu and Chuba, 2005). In Australia, flowering occurs from April to June (PlantNET, 2018).

Longevity

T. rotundifolia is an annual monocarpic herb. In cultivation, this species attains reproductive maturity 2 months after planting and completes its life cycle after 4 months (Muoghalu, 2008).

Environmental Requirements

T. rotundifolia prefers to grow in areas with mean annual temperatures ranging from 14°C to 28°C and mean annual rainfall in the range 800 mm - 1500 mm. It can grow in sandy, loamy and clay soils with pH in the range 6.1 to 7.8, and can also tolerate poor soils. It thrives in moist, open sunny area (Muoghalu and Chuba, 2005; Muoghalu, 2008; Vibrans, 2009; BioNET-EAFRINET, 2018; MBG, 2018).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Tolerated > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
45 35

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 14 28

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall8001500mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

Top of page Bimodal
Uniform

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Canidia mexicana Herbivore Stems/Whole plant to genus
Lixus fimbriolatus Herbivore Stems/Whole plant to genus
Puccinia enceliae Pathogen Whole plant to genus
Rhodobaenus auctus Herbivore Stems/Whole plant to genus
Zygogramma piceicollis Herbivore Leaves/Whole plant to species South Africa
Zygogramma signatipennis Herbivore Leaves/Whole plant to species South Africa

Notes on Natural Enemies

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The following species are natural enemies of T. rotundifolia and have been reported attacking plants of this species in areas within its native range (Simelane et al., 2011):

  • The leaf-feeding beetles Zygogramma signatipennis and Zygogramma piceicollis (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae).

  • The stem-boring weevil Lixus fimbriolatus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae).

  • The stem-boring longhorn beetle Canidia mexicana (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae).

  • The stem-boring snout beetle Rhodobaenus auctus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae).

  • The fungal rust Puccinia enceliae.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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T. rotundifolia spreads by seeds. Mature plants produce a large number of seeds that are dispersed by wind, water, animals, and in clothing. Seeds can also be dispersed in dumped garden waste and contaminated agricultural produce. Seeds can remain dormant in the soil for up to 4 months (Upfold and Staden, 1990; Patel and Manhad, 2014; BioNET-EAFRINET, 2018; ISSA, 2018).

Intentional introduction

T. rotundifolia has been intentionally moved over large distances by humans to be used as an ornamental (BioNET-EAFRINET, 2018; USDA-ARS, 2018).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Breeding and propagationWidely cultivated as garden ornamental Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2018
Crop productionAgricultural weed Yes Yes Vibrans, 2009
DisturbancePioneer species Yes Yes ISSA, 2018
Escape from confinement or garden escapeSeeds in dumped garden waste and contaminated agricultural produce Yes Yes BioNET-EAFRINET, 2018
Garden waste disposalSeeds in dumped garden waste Yes Yes BioNET-EAFRINET, 2018
HorticultureWidely commercialized as garden ornamental Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2018
Internet salesSeeds available online Yes Yes
Nursery tradeWidely commercialized as garden ornamental Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2018
Ornamental purposesGarden ornamental and potted plant Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2018
Seed tradeWidely commercialized as garden ornamental Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2018

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Debris and waste associated with human activitiesSeeds in dumped garden waste and contaminated agricultural produce Yes Yes BioNET-EAFRINET, 2018
Machinery and equipmentSeeds as contaminants Yes Yes BioNET-EAFRINET, 2018
Mulch, straw, baskets and sodSeeds as contaminants Yes Yes BioNET-EAFRINET, 2018
MailSeeds sold online Yes Yes
WaterSeeds Yes Yes BioNET-EAFRINET, 2018
WindSeeds Yes Yes BioNET-EAFRINET, 2018

Economic Impact

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T. rotundifolia has negative impact on agricultural production. It is a weed of crop fields, orchards and citrus plantations (Villaseñor and Espinosa, 1998; Vibrans, 2009).

Environmental Impact

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T. rotundifolia is an aggressive pioneer species that quickly invades open grounds, abandoned fields, forest edges, disturbed sites, riverbanks, roadsides, and disturbed secondary forests. Once established, it grows forming dense stands with negative impact on native biodiversity as they outcompete and displace native vegetation, alter natural regeneration and obstruct access to riverbanks. This species is particularly problematic across Africa, principally in South Africa where it has been declared a Category 1 invasive weed (Henderson, 2007; Mawela, 2014; ISSA, 2018) and in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania where it is regarded as a noxious weed and invasive plant (Muoghalu and Chuba, 2005; Muoghalu, 2008; BioNET-EAFRINET, 2018).

Social Impact

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In South Africa, T. rotundifolia often forms dense stands along road verges that can obstruct motorists' vision (ISSA, 2018).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Gregarious
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
  • Transportation disruption
Impact mechanisms
  • Allelopathic
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - smothering
  • Hybridization
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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T. rotundifolia is widely cultivated as a garden ornamental and hedge plant ((ISSA, 2018; USDA-ARS, 2018). The flowers of this species are reported to yield a good grade of honey (Nash, 1976). In East Africa it is also grown for green manure (BioNET-EAFRINET, 2018).

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Amenity

Materials

  • Green manure

Ornamental

  • Potted plant
  • Seed trade

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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T. rotundifolia is similar to the closely related T. diversifolia, and to the real wild sunflower Helianthus annuus. These three species can be distinguished by the following traits (Weeds of Australia, 2018):

  • Tithonia rotundifolia has leaves without lobes or with rounded lobes. Its flower-heads have bright yellow centers and orange or reddish petals (i.e. ray florets) 2-3.5 cm long.

  • Tithonia diversifolia has leaves with 3-7 pointed lobes. Its flower-heads have bright yellow centres and yellow petals (i.e. ray florets) 4-7 cm long.

  • Helianthus annuus has leaves without lobes. Its flower-heads have orange-brown to dark brown centers and yellow petals (i.e. ray florets) 2-3 cm long.

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Physical/Mechanical Control

Young plants as well as small infestations can be removed manually, but mechanical control is ineffective due to rapid recruitment of seedlings in cleared sites (Mawela; 2014; BioNET-EAFRINET, 2018).

Biological Control

In 2007, T. rotundifolia was targeted for biological control in South Africa. Surveys conducted in the native range (Mexico) revealed five potential biological control agents for this species. Three of these agents are currently undergoing host-specificity and performance evaluations in South Africa. Two leaf-feeding beetles, Zygogramma signatipennis and Zygogramma piceicollis (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), are the most promising biological control agents and preliminary host-specificity trials suggest that they are adequately host-specific. The stem-boring beetle, Lixus fimbriolatus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), is also highly damaging to T. rotundifolia, but its host range is yet to be determined. Two other stem-boring beetles, Canidia mexicana (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) and Rhodobaenus auctust (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) and one pathogen Puccinia enceliae (Uredinales: Pucciniaceae), also cause damage on T. rotundifolia, but have not been successfully reared under quarantine conditions (Simelane et al., 2011).

Chemical Control

Herbicides such as triclopyr, picloram, metsulfuron-methyl, and 2,4-D are recommended for the control of Tithonia species (i.e., T. rotundifolia and T. diversitfolia) in Australia (Biosecurity Queensland, 2016).

References

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Acevedo-Rodríguez P, Strong MT, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, no. 98. Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, Washington DC, 1192 pp. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm

BioNET-EAFRINET, 2018. Invasive Species in East Africa. https://keys.lucidcentral.org/keys/v3/eafrinet/weeds/key/weeds/Media/Html/index.htm

Biosecurity Queensland, 2016. Factsheet for Japanese sunflower. https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/62682/IPA-Japanese-sunflower-PP84.pdf

Broome R, Sabir K, Carrington S, 2007. Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database. Barbados: University of the West Indies. http://ecflora.cavehill.uwi.edu/index.html

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Maroyi, A., 2012. The casual, naturalised and invasive alien flora of Zimbabwe based on herbarium and literature records. Koedoe, 54(1), Article 1054. http://www.koedoe.co.za/index.php/koedoe/article/view/1054/1413

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Distribution References

Acevedo-Rodríguez P, Strong M T, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Washington, DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution. 1192 pp. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm

BioNET-EAFRINET, 2018. Invasive Species in East Africa., https://keys.lucidcentral.org/keys/v3/eafrinet/weeds/key/weeds/Media/Html/index.htm

Broome R, Sabir K, Carrington S, 2007. Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database. In: Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database. Barbados: University of the West Indies. http://ecflora.cavehill.uwi.edu/index.html

Davidse G, Sousa-Sánchez M, Knapp S, Chiang F, UUoa Ulloa C, Pruski J F, 2018. Flora Mesoamericana, Volumen 5, Parte 2: Asteraceae. [ed. by Davidse G, Sousa-Sánchez M, Knapp S, Chiang F, UUoa Ulloa C, Pruski J F]. St. Louis, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden Press. xix + 608 pp.

GRIIS, 2018. Global Register of Introduced and Invasive Species., http://www.griis.org/

ISSA, 2018. Invasive Species South Africa: Tithonia rotundifolia., http://www.invasives.org.za/legislation/item/817-red-sunflower-tithonia-rotundifolia

Jørgensen PM, Nee MH, Beck SG, 2015. (Catálogo de las plantas vasculares de Bolivia, Monographs in Systematic Botany 127(1–2): i–viii, 1–1744). In: Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden, 127 (1-2) Missouri Botanical Garden Press. i-viii, 1-1744.

Magenta MAG, 2015. Tithonia. In: Lista de Espécies da Flora do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro. http://floradobrasil.jbrj.gov.br/jabot/floradobrasil/FB16350

Maroyi A, 2012. The casual, naturalised and invasive alien flora of Zimbabwe based on herbarium and literature records. Koedoe. 54 (1), Article 1054. http://www.koedoe.co.za/index.php/koedoe/article/view/1054/1413

Muoghalu J I, 2008. Growth, reproduction and resource allocation of Tithonia diversifolia and Tithonia rotundifolia. Weed Research (Oxford). 48 (2), 157-162. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-3180.2007.00613.x DOI:10.1111/j.1365-3180.2007.00613.x

Ou Jian, Lu ChangYi, O'Toole D K, 2008. A risk assessment system for alien plant bio-invasion in Xiamen, China. Journal of Environmental Sciences. 20 (8), 989-997. http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/709941/description#description DOI:10.1016/S1001-0742(08)62198-1

USDA-ARS, 2018. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. In: Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx

USDA-NRCS, 2018. The PLANTS Database. In: The PLANTS Database. Greensboro, North Carolina, USA: National Plant Data Team. https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov

Verloove F, 2018. Tithonia rotundidolia. In: Manual of the Alien Plants of Belgium, Belgium: Botanic Garden of Meise. http://alienplantsbelgium.be/

Witt A, Luke Q, 2017. Guide to the naturalized and invasive plants of Eastern Africa. [ed. by Witt A, Luke Q]. Wallingford, UK: CABI. vi + 601 pp. http://www.cabi.org/cabebooks/ebook/20173158959 DOI:10.1079/9781786392145.0000

Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Contributors

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12/08/18 Original text by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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