Tithonia rotundifolia ‘Torch’ (Mexican sunflower cultivar)October 4, 2018
The entrance to the Herb Garden at Wave Hill is an exceptionally colorful sight this fall. Zinnias in shades of salmon-pink and bright-orange vie for space with red-purple globe-amaranths and, towering above them all, giant, red Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia rotundifolia ‘Torch’).
This last, a vigorous annual plant, is not a true sunflower but it is closely related; both are members of the aster family. Tithonia rotundifloia is native to Mexico and Central America and grows from spring-sown seed to at least six feet high in just a few months.
Monarch butterflies love its orange-red flowers. One could be forgiven for imagining that they are getting excited about their imminent journey south and are indulging themselves in a little pre-taste of the Mexican flora.
By Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Senior Horticultural Interpreter