Emilia sonchifolia

lilac tasselflower


Emilia sonchifolia

(L.) DC. 1834

pronounced: ih-MEE-lee-uh son-kee-FOH-lee-uh

(Asteraceae — the daisy family)


common names: lilac tasselflower, emilia, Cupid's shaving brush, Flora's paintbrush

I have not been able to determine the derivation of Emilia; sonchifolia is a mixture of Greek and Latin, σονχος (sonchos), the sow-thistle, and folium, a leaf.

This is a plant of disturbed sites, old fields, roadsides, and the edges of lawns. Its origin was Asiatic, but it is now a pan-tropical weed.

It is an annual herb that can grow to about 80 cm, but is usually much less, erect or sometimes straggling. It is more-or-less glaucous, with the stem striate. The stem is weak, branched, and hairless to sparsely hairy.
The leaves are green, and found mainly on the stems. The lower leaves have narrowly-winged petioles and fine blunt teeth or deep, rounded, pinnate lobes and are larger, and broadly triangular, rounded, or ovate. The upper leaves clasp the stems and are smaller, sessile, and sometimes coarsely toothed.

The heads are in slender corymbs or rarely solitary, 4–5 mm in diameter. They are narrowly urn-shaped to bell-shaped. There are no ray florets, and the disk florets are purple or lilac, or rarely orange-purple.

The fruits are oblong, containing many seeds; these are long, flattened, with a pappus of soft white bristles for wind dispersal.

It is a medicinal herb in Chinese medicine, known as ye xia hong. In Siddha and Ayurvedic medicines it is known as muyalchevi. It is reckoned to provide excellent remedies for eye, ear and throat complaints, and is antiseptic, anti-diarrhoeal, expels parasitic intestinal worms, and reduces fever. The whole plant is taken fresh and crushed well, the juice is extracted and used for the treatment of worms. The paste of the plant is given, usually with buttermilk, for bleeding piles. A decoction of the whole plant is used for fever.

The young leaves – those before the plant flowers – are in some places eaten as a vegetable, either raw or cooked.

This is a good butterfly nectar plant, and the larvae of the moth Nyctemera baulus have been found feeding on it.


Information about medicinal qualities of plants, or about their use as medicines, is for interest only, and is not intended to be used as a guide for the treatment of medical conditions.


Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2009, 2012
Page last updated 18th December 2018