Red sunflower
Tithonia rotundifolia, blomhoof, Groenkloof NR.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Tithonia
T. rotundifolia
Binomial name
Tithonia rotundifolia
(Mill.) S.F. Blake

The red sunflower or Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia (Mill.) S.F. Blake[1]) is a plant in the family Asteraceae, which is native to the warmer and moister parts of North America.


It occurs in Florida, Louisiana, Mexico, Central America and the West Indies. Outside its native region it is sometimes grown as an ornamental and has become naturalized in some of these locales. In Africa it has been recorded up to an altitude of 1,580 m above sea level.[2]


Plants are perennial in the native habitat, up to 4 m tall with orange or red flowers. In USDA zones cooler than Zone 10 it is an annual. The flowers are used by many insects as a nectar source including migrating monarch butterflies. Leaves, despite the epithet, are deltoid to lanceolate, occasionally lobed.[3]

Monarch butterfly flying away from a Mexican sunflower
Tithonia rotundifolia Covered In the First Snow of Fall in Zone 5a


  • Tithonia rotundifolia (Mill.) S.F. Blake, Contr. Gray Herb. 52: 41. 1917.
    • Tagetes rotundifolia Miller, Gard. Dict. ed. 8, Tagetes no. 4. 1768.[4]
    • Helianthus speciosus Hook., Bot. Mag. 61: t. 3295. 1834.[5]
    • Tithonia speciosa (Hook.) Griseb., Cat. pl. Cub. 155. 1866.[6]
    • Tithonia vilmoriniana Pamp.Tithonia vilmoriniana Pamp.</ref>


  1. ^ Blake, Contributions of the Gray Herbarium 52: 41. 1917
  2. ^ Hyde, Mark; et al. "Tithonia rotundifolia (Mill.) S.F. Blake". Flora of Zimbabwe. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  3. ^ Flora of North America, vol 21, p 39. 2006.
  4. ^ Miller, Garden Dictionary ed. 8, Tagetes no. 4. 1768.
  5. ^ Hooker, Botanical Magazine 61, t 3295. 1834.
  6. ^ A.H.R. Griesbach. 1866. Catalogus plantarum cubensium.