Japanese sunflower

Native to Central America, Japanese sunflower is a hardy shrub with sunflower-like blooms. In the wild, it can form dense thickets and out-compete native vegetation. Japanese sunflower is found along the coast from Far North Queensland to Northern New South Wales.

Japanese sunflower is not a prohibited or restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Tithonia diversifolia


  • Shrub up to 3m tall.
  • Stems are hairy, slightly ridged.
  • Leaves are pale green, 5-lobed, serrated, hairy, 6-15cm long, 5-12cm, wide, with 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 4-8mm long, topped with ring.


  • Found along roadsides and embankments, and on unmanaged lands and fire degraded hillsides.


  • Occurs in coastal Queensland.
  • Widespread and common in Far North Queensland.

Life cycle

  • Reproduces from seed.



  • Forms dense thickets and out-competes native vegetation.

How it is spread

  • Seeds spread by animals, water, on clothing and from dumped garden waste.


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

  • No known biological control agents.

Legal requirements

  • Japanese sunflower is not a prohibited or restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014. However, by law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control.
  • Local governments must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in their area. This plan may include actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.

Further information