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Family Asteraceae (Compositae)
Wild sunflower
Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsl.) A. Gray

Wang ye kui

Scientific names Common names
Helianthus quinquelobus Seesé & Moc. Shrub sunflower (Engl.)
Mirasol diversifolia Hemsl. Mexican sunflower (Engl.)
Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsl.) A.Gray Tithonia (Engl.)
Tithonia triloba Sch. Bip. ex Klatt [Illegitimate] Tree marigold (Engl.)
Urbanisol tagetiflora f. grandiflorus Kuntze Wild sunflower (Engl.)
Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsl.) A.Gray is an accepted name The Plant List
Sunflower is a shared common name of (1) Tithonia diversifolia, and (2) Helianthus annuus, mirasol.

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Wang ye kui.
KISII: Amaua maroro.
KIKUYU: Maruru.
LUO: Maua makech, Akech, Maua madungo.
LUHYA: Maua amalulu.

Gen info
Genus name derives from the Greek god Tithonus, a favorite of Aurora, goddess of dawn.

Wild sunflower is a robust herbaceous and bushy perennial that grows up to 3 meters tall. Branches are stout, almost glabrous. Stems are hollow, slightly ridged. Leaves are greyish green, alternate, petioled, membranaceous, ovate to orbicular, 2 to 10 centimeters long, entire or 3- to 5-lobed, finely hairy, with toothed margins. Flower heads are yellow, large, daisy-like, on peduncles 7 to 30 centimeters long. Petals are 7 to 15, bright yellow, 4 to 7 centimeters long and 9 to 16 millimeters wide, with three small teeth at the tips. Center of the flower heads have about 80 to 120 tiny tubular florets surrounded by several rows of green bracts. Seeds are 4 to 8 millimeters long and topped with a ring of scales and two awns, blackish in color, and somewhat four-angled.

Introduced to the Philippines as an ornamental.
Has escaped cultivation to become a weed in waste places.

- Leaf oil showed an abundance of a-pinene (32.9%), b-caryophyllene (20.8%), germacrene D (12.6%), b-pinene (10.9%), and 1,8-cineole (9.1%).
- Flower oil yielded germacrene D (20.3%), b-caryophyllene (20.1%) and bicyclogermacrene (8%).

- Study of essential oil of flowers yielded forty-five components. The major constituents were α- pinene, β-caryophyllene, β-pinene, germacrene D and 1,8-cineole, 34.42%, 22.34%, 11.14%, 11.13% and 8.76% respectively. (18)
- Phytochemical screening of flowers yielded phenolic compounds (tannins, flavonoids, and total phenols), with no alkaloids and saponins. (see study below) (23)
- Study isolated two new monterpenes 1S,2R,3R,5S)-2-hydroxymethyl-6,6-dimethylbicyclo[3.1.1]heptane-2,3- diol (1) and (3R)-6,6-dimethyl-4-methylenebicyclo [3.1.1]heptane-1,3-diol-3-O-β-D-glucopyranoside (2) together with three known compounds, namely, sobrerol (3), (1R,2S,5S)-2,8-p-menth-diol (4) and (lR,5S)-10- hydroxyverbenon (5). (see study below) (26)

- Considered pesticidal, antimalarial, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-diarrheal, anti-spasmodic, vasorelaxant, chemopreventive.

Parts used


- No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- In Central America, leaf extracts are used externally for the treatment of wounds and hematomas.
- Used for treatment of abscesses, infections, snake bites, malaria, and diabetes.
- In Africa, infusion used for constipation, indigestion, sore throat.
- Pesticide: In Uganda, used by farmers for field and storage pest management. (13)
- Fodder: Leaves, soft branches, and flowers considered to have high nutritive-quality index. (13)
- Fuel: Used as firewood.

Analgesic / Anti-Inflammatory:
Study of methanol extract of dried leaves of TD produced dose-related inhibition of carrageenan-induced paw edema and cotton pellet-induced granuloma in rats. The analgesic effect was observed with hot plate latency assays. Results confirm the traditional use of TD for the treatment of painful inflammatory conditions. (1)
Toxicity Studies:. Study results on the aqueous extracts of TD leaves suggest it may have adverse effects on the functions of the liver, heart and kidney. (3) Study of a 70% methanol extract showed a dose- and time-dependent toxic effect. Used in mice to reduce parasitemia with Plasmodium, the observed kidney and liver toxicity at the lowest dose tested, although reversible, raises concern over the safety of the use of the plant extract against malaria
Sesquiterpene Lactones / Anti-Inflammatory / Antibacterial: The main sesquiterpene lactones of species growing in Costa Rica – diversifolin, diversifolin methyl ester and tirotundin – were studied for their anti-inflammatory activity. Results showed inhibitory activity of the 3 compounds, attributed to aklation of cysteine residues. Diversifolin was also found to have antibacterial activity, moderately active against B subtilis.
Antimicrobial: Chemical analysis of the leaf of Tithonia yielded sesquiterpene lactones, e.g. Tagitinin which possess insecticidal properties. Study showed it possessed antimicrobial activity, active against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, with activity against S aureus, E coli and P aeruginosa, suggesting they can be used in treating gastrointestinal infections, skin diseases and urinary tract infections in man. (5)
Anti-Diabetic: Study on an 80% ethanol extract of TD showed reduction of blood glucose in KK-ay mice 3 weeks after a single oral dose, also significantly lowering plasma insulin, decreasing blood glucose in an insulin tolerance test. Results suggest it may be useful for the treatment of type2 diabetes. (6) Study yielded two new monoterpenes along with three known compounds. Compounds 1 and 3 significantly increased glucose uptake in 3T3-L1 adipocytes without significant toxic effects in vitro. (see constituents above) (26)
Potential Cancer Chemopreventive: Study isolated three new sesquiterpenoids – 2a-hydroxytirotundin, tithofolinolide, and 3a-acetoxy-8b-isobutyryloxyreynosin along with 8 known sesquiterpene lactones. Among the isolates, 2 compounds showed significant antiproliferative activity, 3 compounds induced HL-60 cellular differentiation, one significantly inhibited lesion formation in the mouse mammary organ culture assay. (7)
Antimicrobial / Germacranolide-type Sesquiterpene Lactone: Results indicate the non-polar leaf extract of T diversifolia could be useful in the treatment of some disease conditions and the sesquiterpene lactone is a potential candidate as a phytotherapeutic agent against some bacterial infections. (8)
Anti-Inflammatory / Hepatoprotective: Results indicate the treatment with a water extract of the aerial part of T diversifolia decreased paw edema induced by carrageenan, with reduction of the elevated liver enzymes, with improvement in the pathologic hepatic changes caused by carbon tetrachloride. (9)
Anti-Malarial / Repellant: The aqueous and methanolic extracts had 50% and 74% clearing of parasites respectively, compared to 100% for chloroquine, more effective when administered at the onset of infection, suggesting a time-dependency of the anti-malarial effects. On mosquitocidal repellency, although the volatile oil extract showed higher repellent effect on Anapholes gambiae, its repellant and protective effects on all the other species of mosquito can not be underestimated. (11)
Repeated-Dose Toxicological Studies: Study evaluated an aqueous extract of leaves for repeated-dose toxicity. The AE is composed of both STLs (sesquiterpene lactones) and CAs (chlorogenic acid derivatives). Results showed alterations in hematological parameters and few alterations in biochemical parameters. Although relatively safe in lower doses (100 mg/kg), the polar extract and extract rich in STL exhibited several adverse effects in the liver and kidneys. (14)
Anti-Diarrheal / Leaves: Study of an aqueous extract of T. diversifolia leaves in rats showed remarkable anti-diarrheal effect in castor oil-induced diarrhea model, castor oil-induced enteropooling and gastrointestinal transit time models in rats. (15)
Radical Scavenging / Adipogenesis of Mesenchymal Cells: Study provided evidence that T. diversifolia had health promoting properties, resulting both from free radical scavenging activity and induction of protective cellular systems involved in cellular stress defenses and in adipogenesis of mesenchymal cells. (16)
Potential as Organic Foliar Fertilizer: Study evaluated the potential of T. diversifolia as organic foliar fertilizer using pechay as experimental plant. Results showed a mixture ration of 1.5 kg leaves: 1L H2O yielded the highest pechay plant weight. Findings suggest a potential to test it as foliar fertilizer in other plants. (17)
Antibacterial / Isolates from Wound Infections: Study of various extracts of T. diversifolia leaf on bacterial isolates from wound infections, including S. aureus, non-coagulase Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas, Proteus and Mirabilis sp, showed promising broad spectrum antibacterial effect on human pathogens. (19)
Biosorption of Nickel: Study investigated T. diversifolia as a novel biosorbent for nickel from solutions. Results showed an unmodified biomass removed over 70% of the nickel content of a solution, whereas NaOH modification increased the adsorption to over 77%. (20)
Phytotoxins: Reports suggest tat T. diversifolia produces allelochemicals that interfere with the development of surrounding plants. Study was conducted to identify compounds that have phytotoxic activity in TD extracts. Various extracts of leaves, stems, and roots showed significant inhibition of wheat coleoptile growth and a leaf extract showed inhibitory effects to a commercial herbicide. Study isolated fourteen compounds, 12 of which were sesquiterpene lactones. 1ß-methoxydiversifolin (compound 6), tagitinin A (7), and tagitinin C (8) were major products. (21)
Antibacterial Soap: Study evaluated Tithonia diversifolia, Aloe secundiflora, and Azadirachta indica in the making of herbal soaps, and tested for growth inhibition of E. coli and Candida albicans. Tithonia diversifolia exhibited the highest inhibitory effect on the test bacterial strain, but least inhibition against C. albicans. (22)
Antioxidant / Flowers: Study evaluated the antioxidant activity of extracts of dried flowers of T. diversifolia. Phytochemical screening yielded phenolic compounds: tannins, flavonoids and total phenols. Results showed strong antioxidant activity. (23)
Antifibrotic Effect on Keloid Fibroblasts: Keloid formation is abnormal wound healing characterized by massive fibroblast proliferation and excessive collagen accumulation. Study evaluated the potential of TD as an antifibrotic agent. Results showed concentration and time dependent inhibition of keloid fibroblast culture proliferation and inhibition of collagen deposition. (24)
Antiemetic / Leaves: Study evaluated the antiemetic effect of methanolic extract of leaves using chick emesis model. Results showed significant antiemetic effect, compared with reference drug chlorpromazine. (25)
Larvicidal / Culex sp Larvae / Leaves: Culex sp. is a mosquito vector that can cause filariasis. Study evaluated the larvicidal effects of Tithonia diversifolia water extract against Culex larvae. Results showed a larvicidal effect on Culex sp larvae, although not as effective as Abate™. The leaf presents as a potential alternative larvicide. (27)
Biolarvicidal / Myiasis / Leaves: Myiasis or "belatungan" is the infestation of live human and vertebrate animal tissue with dipterous larvae, Chrysomya bezziana. Study evaluated a methanol extract of leaves against various stages of C. bezziana larvae. Results showed a 1% extract was the most effective concentration able to kill the larvae and decrease the pupae weight. Authors suggest an in vivo evaluation in infested livestock. (28)
Biosorption / Lead Binding: Study evaluated the adsorption capacity, pH-profile and time-dependency studies using biomass of T. diversifolia. Results showed good adsorption capacity, with 96% of lead content of water adsorbed in the first five minutes of interaction. (29)


Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Last Update August 2015

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Studies on the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of Tithonia diversifolia leaf extract / Victor B Owoyele, Caleb O. Wuraola et al /
Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Vol 90, Issues 2-3, February 2004, Pages 317-321 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2003.10.010 |
Study of three sesquiterpene lactones from Tithonia diversifolia on their anti-inflammatory activity using the transcription factor NF-kappa B and enzymes of the arachidonic acid pathway as targets / Rungeler P, Lyss G et al / Planta Med. 1998 Oct;64(7):588-93.
Toxicity study of the aqueous extract of Tithonia diversifolia leaves using selected biochemical parameters in rats / J O Adebayo, E A Balogun, S A Oyeleke / Pharmacognosy Research, 2009 / Volume : 1, Issue : 3, Page : 143-147
Toxicity studies of Tithonia diversifolia A. Gray (Asteraceae) in rats
/ T O Elufloye, O I Alatise et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Vol 122, Issue 2, 18 March 2009, Pages 410-415 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2008.12.007
Antimicrobial activity of aqueous and ethanolic extracts from Tithonia diversifolia and Bryum coronatum collected from Ogbomoso, Oyo State. Nigeria / Liasu M O and Ayandele A A / Adv. in Nat. Appl. Sci., 2(1): 31-34, 2008
Antidiabetic Effect of Nitobegiku, the Herb Tithonia diversifolia, in KK-Ay Diabetic Mice / Toshihiro Mura, Kosuke Nosaka et al / Biol. Pharm. Bull. 28(11) 2152—2154 (2005)
Sesquiterpenoids from Tithonia diversifolia with Potential Cancer Chemopreventive Activity / Jian-Qiao Gu, Joell J Gills et al / J. Nat. Prod., 2002, 65 (4), pp 532–536 / DOI: 10.1021/np010545m
Antimicrobial activity of extracts and a germacranolidetype sesquiterpene lactone from Tithonia diversifolia
leaf extract
/ C A Obafemi, T O Sulaimon et al / African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 5 (12), pp. 1254-1258, 16 June 2006
The antiinflammatory and liver protective effect of Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsl.) gray and Dicliptera chinensis Juss. Extracts in rats / Chun-Ching Lin, Min-Lin Lin, Jer-Min Lin / Phytotherapy Research
Volume 7 Issue 4, Pages 305 - 309 / Published Online: 31 Jan 200
Identification of the main volatile compounds in the leaf and flower of Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsl) Gray / Dorcas O Moronkola, Isiaka A Ogunwande et al / Journal of Natural Medicines, Volume 61, Number 1 / January, 2007 / DOI 10.1007/s11418-006-0019-5
Anti-malarial and repellent activities of Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsl.) leaf extracts / Oyewole I O, Ibidapo C A et al / Journal of Medicinal Plants Research Vol. 2(8), pp. 171-175, August, 2008
Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsl.) A.Gray / Synonyms / The Plant List
Tithonia diversifolia / Fact Sheet / Pesticidal Plant Leaflet
Repeated-dose toxicological studies of Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsl.) A. gray and identification of the toxic compounds / Flávia Donaire Passoni, Rejane Barbosa Oliveira, Daniela Aparecida Chagas-Paula, Leonardo Gobbo-Neto, Fernando Batista Da Costa / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 147, Issue 2, 20 May 2013, Pages 389–394 / doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.03.024
Studies of Phytochemical Screening, Acute Toxicity and Anti-Diarrhoeal Effect of Aqueous Extract of Kenyan Tithonia diversifolia Leaves in Rats / J.O.C. Ezeonwumelu, R.G. Omolo, A.M. Ajayi, E. Agwu, J.K. Tanayen, C.P. Adiukwu, A.A. Oyewale, B. Adzu, A.G. Okoruwa and S.O. Ogbonnia / British Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology 3(3): 127-134, 2012
Effects of Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsl.) A. Gray Extract on Adipocyte Differentiation of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells / Di Giacomo C, Vanella L, Sorrenti V, Santangelo R, Barbagallo I, Calabrese G, et al. / PLoS ONE 10(4): 2015 / e0122320 / doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122320
Dela Pena, Cenny I. Bartolome, Leah. D., Banwa, Tules.P., PhD / European Scientific Journal, Dec 2013 / Special Edition, vol.4
Extraction and Characterization of Essential Oils from Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsl.) A. Gray / Chukwuka K.S, Ojo O. M / American Journal of Essential Oils and Natural Products 2014; 1 (4): 1-5
In vitro Antimicrobial Activity of Tithonia diversifolia Leaf Extracts on Bacterial Isolates from Wound Infections from a Nigerian Hospital / O. Ogunfolakan, O.S. Kolawole and A.O. Olowe / Research Journal of Medical Sciences, 2010, Vol 4, Issue 5, Pp 305-308 / DOI: 10.3923/rjmsci.2010.305.308
Biosorption of nickel from aqueous solution by Tithonia diversifolia / Afamefuna Elvis Okoronkwo*, Ademola Festus Aiyesanmi, Emmanuel Folorunso Olasehinde / doi: 10.5004/dwt.2009.833
Phytotoxins from Tithonia diversifolia / Maria A. F. M. Miranda, Rosa M. Varela, Ascension Torres, José M. G. Molinillo, Sonia C. J. Gualtieri, and Francisco A. Macías* / J. Nat. Prod., 2015, 78 (5), pp 1083–1092 /
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.5b00040
ANTIMICROBIAL ACTIVITIES OF SKINCARE PREPARATIONS FROM PLANT EXTRACTS / *Kareru, P.G, Keriko, J.M, Kenji, G.M, Thiong'o, G.T, Gachanja, A.N, Mukiira, H.N / African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, Vol. 7, No. 3, 2010, pp. 214-218
Phytochemical screening and antioxidant activity of ethanol extract of Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsl) A. Gray dry flowers / Robson Miranda da Gama, Marcelo Guimarães, Luiz Carlos de Abreu, José Armando-Junior* / Asian Pac J Trop Biomed 2014; 4(9): 740-742
Antifibrotic Effect of Standardized Ethanol Extract of Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsley) A. Gray on Keloid Fibroblasts / Mae Sri Hartati Wahyuningsih*, Y Widodo Wirohadidjojo, Rian Hidayat3, Ahmad Sadid / International Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemical Research, Vol 7, Issue 4, Article 2
Antiemetic Activity of Tithonia diversifolia (HEMSL.) A. Gray Leaves in Copper Sulfate Induced Chick Emesis Model / Salman Ahmed*, Patrricia Akpomedaye Onocha / American Journal of Phytomedicine and Clinical Therapeutics, 1(9), 2013: pp 734-739
Two New Monoterpenes from Tithonia diversifolia and Their Anti-Hyperglycemic Activity / Xia Li, Guanghui Huang, Guijun Zhao, Wansheng Chen, Junli Li and Lianna Sun∗ / Rec. Nat. Prod. 7:4 (2013) 351-354
Larvicidal Effects of Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsley) A. Gray Leaf Water Extract against Culex sp. Larvae /
Hasan Ali Abdurrachman, Diah Dhianawaty, Neneng Syarifah / Althea Medical Journal, Vol 2, No 1, 2015.
Biolarvacidal activity of methanol extract of Kipahit leaves (Tithonia diversifolia) against larvae of Chrysomya bezziana fly / Wardhana AH, Diana N / JITV, Indonesian Journal of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Vol 19, No 1, 2014
Investigation of Lead Binding by Tithonia diversifolia / A.E. Okoronkwo,E.F. Olasehinde / Journal of Applied Sciences 2007

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