Photo guide to weeds

Japanese sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia)

  • Image of Japanese Sunflower
    Image of Japanese Sunflower
  • Image of Japanese Sunflower
    Image of Japanese Sunflower

General information

Japanese sunflower is native to Central America.

Japanese sunflower is a serious environmental weed, forming dense thickets and out-competing native vegetation.

Japanese sunflower is not a declared pest plant under Queensland legislation.


Scientific name Tithonia diversifolia
  • Shrub standing up to 3m.
  • Stems are hairy and slightly ridged.
  • Leaves are pale green five-lobed, serrated and hairy, and between 6-15cm in length and 5-12cm in width. Tapered leaf blades, 6-33cm long, 5-22cm wide.
  • Flowers are sunflower-like heads up to 10cm across, with yellow flower centres and reddish-orange petals 4-5cm long.
  • Seeds are topped with a ring, 4-8mm long.
  • Found along roadsides and embankments, unmanaged lands and fire degraded hillsides.
  • Native to Central America.
  • Occurs in coastal Queensland and northern coastal New South Wales.
  • Widespread and common in Far North Queensland.
Life cycle
  • Reproduces from seed.
  • Seeds spread by animals, water and on clothing and from dumped garden waste.


  • Forms dense thickets and out-competes native vegetation.

The best form of weed control is prevention. Treat weed infestations when they are small - do not allow weeds to establish.
Ways to prevent weed spread 


Physical control

  • Small infestations can be dug out or chipped.

Herbicide control

  • Herbicides are effective.

See the Japanese sunflower fact sheet (PDF, 188KB) for herbicide control and application rates.

Biological control

  • There is no biological control agent available for this plant.
Declaration details
  • not a declared species under Queensland legislation but may be declared under local government law

Last updated 26 February 2014