An annual upright herb with narrow thistle-like flower heads similar to Crassocephalum crepidioides Thickhead except that it has definitely pink flower heads and sessile leaves. A common weed of tended areas such as gardens, footpaths, roadsides and in disturbed areas. Widespread but fairly harmless. Regarded by many as a native Australian plant, however, widely reported elsewhere as an alien plant, introduced from northern Africa and tropical Asia.

Photo: Mark Crocker

Leaves

Lower leaves are arranged in a rosette around the base, having petioles top about 3 cm. Higher leaves are clasped to the stem (sessile).

Photo: Mark Crocker

Flowers

Flower heads are roughly cylindrical to around 1.2 cm, mostly pink, sometimes purplish in autumn to spring. Seeds are about 5 mm with hairy ribs and a long tuft of white hairs at the top.

Photo: Mark Crocker

Flower Head Close-up

It is a weed in Hawaii. The Hawaiian name pualele (literally, jumping flower) is a reference to the dandelion-like seeds that disperse in the wind. Medicinally, reported to be an anti-inflammatory. In a preliminary study on the anti-inflammatory properties of Emilia sonchifolia leaf extracts (Muko KN, Ohiri FC, Department of Pharmacognosy, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria) the aqueous and methanolic extracts of Emilia sonchifolia leaves progressively reduced rat paw oedema, the aqueous extract showing a more pronounced effect than the methanol extract.

Photo: Mark Crocker

Flower With Butterfly

This butterfly is the Lemon Migrant Catopsilia pomona. The foodplants of the caterpillar of this butterfly are various species in the family Caesalpiniaceae (not Emilia sp.), but adults will use just about any nectar.
Photo: Mark Crocker