(L.) DC. ex Wight
Emilia sonchifolia, also known as lilac tasselflower or cupid's shaving brush is tropical flowering species of tasselflower and in the sunflower family. It is widespread in tropical regions around the world, apparently native to Asia (China, India, Southeast Asia, etc.) and naturalized in Africa, Australia, the Americas, and various oceanic islands.
Emilia sonchifolia is a branching, perennial herb up to 40 cm (15.5 in) tall. Leaves are lyrate-pinnatilobed, up to 10 cm (4 in) long, sometimes becoming purplish as they get old. One plant can produce several pink or purplish flower heads.
Emilia sonchifolia is an annual herb, which, is erect and sparingly hairy soft stemmed. The plant grows to 20 to 70 cm in height with a branch tap root. The leave pattern is alternate with winged petioles. Leaves on the lower end of the stem are round/oval shape, 4 to 16 cm in height and 1 to 8 cm in width. The leaves on the upper end of the stem are smaller than the leaves on the lower end of the stem, and are often coarsely toothed.
The inflorescence is often dichotomous with 3 to 6 stalked flower heads and whorl bracts beneath. The urn-shaped flower head has 30-60 florets per head, the outer ray florets are female and the inner disc florets bisexual (with both stamens and stigmas). The flower can be a range of colors such as purple, scarlet, red, pink, orange, white or lilac. The fruit produced is oval shaped, reddish brown or off-white, has white hairs up to 8 mm long, and exhibits dry indehiscent properties.
Biology and ecology
Emilia sonchifolia completes its life cycle in ~90 days. There are two types of seed, which are defined by the color of the achene. The first, a female outer circle of florets of a flower head produces a red and brown achenes. The second, is the inner hermaphrodite florets, which, are off white. Most seeds germinate at 27 °C but those which develop from outer florets will germinate under deep shade. Plants will only emerge from seeds near the surface, however, some seed can germinate (4%) while buried deep (4 cm). A study, states 29% of seeds germinated when placed at 0.5 cm below the soil, while only 3% germinated when buried 1 cm. The seed carries a pappus of hairs, indicating the use of wind as a dispersal agent.
Emilia sonchifolia is commonly reported as a weed crop. In most areas, it is reported as noninvasive, however, in some cotton producing areas, it is classified as the most problematic weeds.
It has certain effects on individual crops, such as decreases in weight of lettuce(by 70%) and mustard cabbage(by 30%), and a decreased yield of tomato fruit by 18%.
The pathogens associated with Emilia sonchifolia also have effects of certain crops. Emilia sonchifolia is a host of Xanthomonas campetris, which, causes a bacterial infection in beans in Brazil and Cuba.
Emilia sonchifolia can grow anywhere from sea level to 1000 meters. It exists over a wide range of conditions from the tropics to grasslands, waste areas, roadsides, and partially shaded areas. It is tolerant of acid conditions. Emilia sonchifolia is a native of Central and South America.
It is a medicinal herb in Chinese, called ye xia hong (Chinese: 葉下紅). It is one among the "Ten Sacred Flowers of Kerala State in India, collectively known as Dasapushpam. In Vietnam, it has been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of fever, sore throat, diarrhea, eczema and as an antidote for snake bites.
The leaves and young shoots can be used, raw or cooked. The leaves are harvested before the plant flowers.
The young leaves are used as food in Java and Puerto Rico, however, in India and China, it is used medicinally.
Emilia sonchifolia is classified as a weed that grows in the fields of many agriculture crops, but it can be controlled via the use of certain chemicals. For example, in rice, a mixture of pretilachlor and dimethametryn, and a mixture of piperophos with propanil or oxidiazon, are added to the soil after sowing, resulting in 8–12 weeks of growth control against Emilia sonchifolia. In soybean fields, a mixture of bentazone, fomensafen and sethoxydim is used to control Emilia sonchifolia growth. In cotton and soybean fields, sethoxydim is the chemical agent used to control Emilia sonchifolia growth. Lastly, atrazine is the chemical agent used to control the growth of Emilia sonchifolia in sugarcane crops.
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