Wild sunflower

Family • Asteraceae - Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsl.) A. Gray - SHRUB SUNFLOWER - Wang ye kui

Scientific names

Tithonia diversifolia

Common names

Shrub sunflower (Engl.)
Tithonia (Engl.)
Tree marigold (Engl.)
Wild sunflower (Engl.)
Wang ye kui (Chin.)

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

Wild sunflower

Small to medium-sized annual shrub with rather stout, almost glabrous branches. Leaves are alternate, petioled, membranaceous, ovate to orbicular, entire or 3- to 5-lobed, with toothed margins.

Wild sunflower2

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

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) 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 |

(2) 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.

(3) 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

(4) 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

(5) 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

(6) 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)

(7) 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

(8) 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

(9) 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

(10) 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

Wild sunflower3Constituents
– 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%).

No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
In Central America, leaf extracts are used externally for the treatment of wounds and hematomas.

Study Findings
• 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 confrim the traditional use of TDfor the treatment of painful inflammatory conditions.


• Toxicity Studies: 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 toxcity at the lowest dose tested, although reversible, raises concern over the safety of the use of the plant extract against malaria. Study resulsts on the aqueous extracts of TD leaves suggest it may have adverse effects on the functions of the liver, heart and kidney.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• Anti-Malarial / Repellant: The aqueous and methanolic extracts had 50% and 74% clearing of parasites respectively, compared to 100% for chloroquine, more effecgtive 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.