Tithonia diversifolia is a species of flowering plant in the family Asteraceae that is commonly known as the tree marigold,[2] Mexican tournesol, Mexican sunflower, Japanese sunflower or Nitobe chrysanthemum. It is native to Mexico and Central America but has a nearly pantropical distribution as an introduced species.[1] Depending on the area they may be either annual or perennial. It has shown great potential in raising the soil fertility in soils depleted in nutrients.[3]

Tithonia diversifolia
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Tithonia
T. diversifolia
Binomial name
Tithonia diversifolia
  • Mirasolia diversifolia Hemsl.[1]

Originating in Mexico; research has shown its potential in benefiting poor African farmers.[4] This plant is a weed that grows quickly and has become an option as an affordable alternative to expensive synthetic fertilizers.[5] It has shown to increase plant yields and the soil nutrients of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).[5]

Description edit

Tithonia diversifolia is 2–3 m (6.6–9.8 ft) in height with upright and sometimes ligneous stalks in the form of woody shrubs. Leaves are sub-ovate, serrate, acute, 10 to 40 cm long, simply or mostly 3-7 lobed, somewhat glandular, and slightly grayish beneath. The leaves of the plant alternate in sides they grow on, which is where the plant gets the name diversifolia.

The large, showy honey-scented flowers[6] are yellow to orange colored, 5–15 cm wide and 10–30 cm long.[7] Flowering occurs in spring, though more profusely during autumn and early winter.[8] Its seeds are spread through way of wind, water, and animals.[9] The seeds are achenes, 4-angled, and 5mm long.[10]

History and geography edit

Flower detail

This plant was originally domesticated in Mexico and spread to other parts of Central and South America and north into the United States.[11] It was brought over to parts of Africa and Asia as an ornamental plant and has become an invasive weed that is widely spread.[12] It is most commonly found in areas with an altitude between 550m and 1950m.[13] It is commonly found scattered among rivers and roadsides.[14] In Asia and Latin America this plant is also referred to as kembang bulan (Indonesian and Javanese), jalacate (Spanish), buatong (Thai) and dã quỳ (Vietnamese).[15]

While T. diversifolia has moderate drought tolerance, the amount of rainfall that the African subtropics receives may not be enough to support the growing of this biomass.[16] T. diversifolia currently grows in humid and semi humid areas in Africa.[17] However, no evidence was found to suggest that it had been attempted in desert conditions.

Cultivation edit

A shrub

Tithonia diversifolia can grow in many different environmental conditions. It has a moderate drought tolerance.[13] It is ideally grown in areas with an annual rainfall ranging from 1000–2000 mm and a temperature of 15-31 degrees Celsius.[13]

This plant does not require a large amount of nutrients because it is able to increase the amount of essential nutrients in the soil itself.[18] As a weed it spreads rapidly which allows farmers to obtain large amounts for the use of fertilization.[19]

Economics edit

A study on the use of this green fertilizer on tomato plants shows that this is a useful method to increase crop yields in order to benefit the farmer’s wealth.[20] However, this is not without a serious look at the labour requirements. A different study found that, with maize, the overall labour demand versus the financial prospects is not worthwhile, especially in areas of unpredictable rainfalls.[21]

This same study also found that growing T. diversifolia on farmer land is not as beneficial from an economic standpoint. Instead, it is better to harvest from an off site location and transport to the fields.[22] From this study, fields that received only a P fertilizer yielded an income to the farmer of $50USD/ha. When only T. diversifolia was applied, this income rose to $494USD/ha.[22] The latter results are high, as another study showed an increase of only to $116USD/ha.[23]

Harvesting and distributing this fertilizer over the land by hand is very labour-intensive.[24] The best yields come when T. diversifolia is grown off the land as to not take up growing space. For this reason, when time spent on labour has been factored, this approach may not be beneficial to a farmer.[25]

Biomass edit

Tithonia diversifolia can be used as organic fertilizer biomass. The biomass refers to materials that are derived from the plant, such as its foliage, being worked into the soil as a dry fertilizer.[26] Since its use as fertilizer requires high labour, it is recommended for use with high value crops such as tomato, kale, carrot, and maize.[27] For this use, the plant is first grown in hedges around the edges of harvest land.[28] It is important though to keep the maximum amount of growing area a farmer has. The green stems (not the woody stems), leaves, and flowers can be removed from the plant at a farmer selected time, though it is recommended that cutting every 5 months will give a plentiful amount of nutrients in the biomass.[29] The biomass can also be used as a mulch and can be left on top of the soil to decompose into the ground.[30] It has been found that the biomass from T. diversifolia breaks down rapidly and releases nutrients quickly.[31]

When applying the mulch or biomass to the soil, it should be applied at the minimum amount of one ton to every hectare of land. However, the best yield is given when 5 tons/hectare is applied.[32] The downside here is that a lot of foliage is needed to cover a small area of land because it has a high water content.[33] Mixing this biomass with a synthetic fertilizer will bring higher yields. A study found that when applying tithonia with triple superphosphate (TSP) that the yields increased by 220% compared to a control test containing only an inorganic nitrogen fertilizer (Urea).[34] When using T. diversifolia it should be supplemented with a Mg fertilizer as this nutrient is lacking in quantity when compared to other green fertilizers.[35]

Symbolism and uses edit

A girl with tree marigold flowers (Lâm Đồng, Việt Nam).
  • In Japan, towards the end of the Meiji Period, they were imported as ornamental plants although seldom cultivated there. Having a characteristic bitter taste, they were used to induce a fever to help fight poisoning, although not used for direct medicinal purposes. There is also the story of the species being introduced to Japan by Nitobe Inazo, hence its Japanese name, the Nitobe chrysanthemum (ニトベギク; Nitobegiku).
  • It is the official symbol of Da Lat city, Vietnam.
  • They are sold in herbal medicine markets in Taiwan.
  • It is the provincial flower of Mae Hong Son Province, Thailand.
  • T. diversifolia can be used as a green fertilizer for farmers. It can also be used as chicken feed, fuelwood, soil erosion control, and building materials.[36] For fertilization, it is used as a mulch which can be spread on top of the soil or buried beneath it.[37] The advantages here is that using the plant as a fertilizer has proven to increase crop yields.[5] T. diversifolia has the ability to restore phosphorus in high amounts to the soil.[21] T. diversifolia as a fertilizer contains 1.76% N, 0.82% P, and 3.92% K. All three properties are lower in cattle manure, and P is higher in poultry and swine manure.[38]

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Tithonia diversifolia". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2011-05-19.
  2. ^ USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Tithonia diversifolia". The PLANTS Database (plants.usda.gov). Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  3. ^ Achieng, J. O., Ouma, G., Odhiambo, G., & and Muyekho, F. (2007). Effect of tithonia diversifolia (hemsley) and inorganic fertilizers on maize yield on alfisols and ultisols of western kenya . Biennial Conference, Kenya. p.259
  4. ^ Jama, B., Palm, C. A., Buresh, R. J., Niang, A., Gachengo, C., Nziguheba, G., et al. (2000). Tithonia diversifolia as a green manure for soil fertility improvement in western kenya: A review. Agroforestry Systems, 49. p.202
  5. ^ a b c Jama et al. 2000, p.202
  6. ^ Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsl.) A.Gray. Flora Fauna Web
  7. ^ Orwa, C., Mutua, A., Kindt, R., Jamnadass, R. & Anthony, S. (2009). Agroforestree database:A tree reference and selection guide version 4.0 . Retrieved November 21, 2013, from http://www.worldagroforestry.org/sites/treedbs/treedatabases.asp
  8. ^ Tithonia diversifolia Weeds of Australia. Retrieved 7 November 2023.
  9. ^ Jama et al. 2000. p.204
  10. ^ Lalith Gunasekera, Invasive Plants: A guide to the identification of the most invasive plants of Sri Lanka, Colombo 2009, p.109.
  11. ^ Orwa 2009, p.2.
  12. ^ Jama et al. 2000, p.202.
  13. ^ a b c Orwa et al. 2009, p.2
  14. ^ Achieng et al. 2007, p.259
  15. ^ Orwa et al. 2009, p.1.
  16. ^ Thor Smestad, B., Tiessen, H., & Buresh, R. J. (2002). Short fallows of tithonia diversifolia and crotalaria grahamiana for soil fertility improvement in western kenya. Agroforestry Systems, 55, 181-194.
  17. ^ Jama et al. 2000, p. 202.
  18. ^ Olabode et al. 2007, p.504.
  19. ^ Jama et al. 2000, p.204.
  20. ^ Wanjiku, J., & Kimenye, L. N. (2006). Profitability of kale and tomato production under different soil fertility replenishment technologies in western Kenya. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, 29(3), p.138.
  21. ^ a b Nziguheba, G., Merckx, R., Palm, C. A., & Mutuo, P. (2002). Combining tithonia diversifolia and fertilizers for maize production in a phosphorus deficient soil in kenya. Agroforestry Systems, 55, 165-174.
  22. ^ a b Nziguheba et al. 2002, p.171
  23. ^ Wanjiku et al. 2006, p.144
  24. ^ Achieng et al. 2007, p.265.
  25. ^ Jama et al. 2000, p.216.
  26. ^ Liasu et al. 2007, p.336.
  27. ^ Wanjiku et al. 2006, p.137
  28. ^ Jama et al. 2000, p. 202
  29. ^ Jama et al. 2000, p.205
  30. ^ Liasu et al. 2007, p.336
  31. ^ Jama et al. 2000, p. 208.
  32. ^ Orwa et al. 2009, p.3.
  33. ^ Jama et al. 2000, p.215.
  34. ^ Opala, P. A., Othineno, C. O., Okalebo, J. R., & Kisinyo, P. O. (2009). Effects of combining organic materials with inorganic phosphorus sources on maize yield and financial benefits in western kenya. Expl Agriculture, 46(1), p.27.
  35. ^ Olabode et al. 2007, p.506.
  36. ^ Olabode, O. S., Sola, O., Akanbi, W. B., Adesina, G. O., & Babajide, P. A. (2007). Evaluation of tithonia diversifolia (hemsl.) A gray for soil improvement. World Journal of Agricultural Sciences, 3(4), 503-507.
  37. ^ Liasu, M. O., & Achakazi, A. (2007). Influence of tithonia diversifolia Leaf mulch and fertilizer application on the growth and yield of potted tomato plants. American-Eurasion Journal of Agriculture and Environmental Science, 2(4), p.336
  38. ^ Olabode et al. 2007, p.505.

External links edit