Emilia sonchifolia var. javanica
Emilia leaf detail
Emilia stem detail
Emilia infestation
Emilia flowering
Emilia about to flower
Emilia flowers
Emilia seeding
Emilia seeding
Emilia seeded
Emilia sprout
Emilia sprout

A small, short-lived, herbaceous plant with upright or semi-upright stems usually growing 15-60 cm tall. Its leaves (1.5-13 cm long) are arranged in a weak rosette and alternately arranged along the stems the larger lower leaves are deeply-lobed while the smaller upper leaves are narrower and almost entire. Its narrow flower-heads (8-12 mm long) are pink or purplish in colour and do not have any obvious 'petals' its small 'seeds' are topped with a tuft of whitish coloured hairs (about 5 mm long).

Common names 
Also known as: Cupid’s shaving-brush, Flora’s paint brush, Lilac tasselflower, Purple sow thistle, Red groundsel, Red tasselflower, Sow thistle,
Flowering time 
Autumn - Spring
Native to China, Japan and south-eastern Asia.
Council declaration 
SIL – Special Investigation List
Known distribution 

Mainly naturalised in the coastal districts of south-eastern Queensland, and particularly common in the Moreton district. Widely naturalised throughout other parts of eastern Queensland and naturalised in the coastal districts of northern New South Wales.


A weed of crops, pastures, gardens, roadsides, footpaths, parks, lawns, disturbed sites and waste areas.


A small, short-lived (i.e. annual), herbaceous plant with upright or semi-upright (i.e. erect or ascending) stems usually growing 15-60 cm tall, but occasionally reaching up to 80 cm in height.

Impact and control methods 
Stem and leaves 

The greenish stems are round in cross-section and hairless (i.e. glabrous) or sparsely hairy (i.e. pubescent). The lower leaves are arranged in a weak rosette, with stalks (i.e. petioles) up to 3 cm long. Leaves that are produced along the stems are alternately arranged, have stem-clasping bases, and are often without stalks (i.e. sessile). The leaf blades (1.5-13 cm long and 0.8-6 cm wide) vary in shape from being deeply lobed (i.e. pinnatisect), with a larger terminal leaflet, to being broadly egg-shaped in outline (i.e. ovate) with irregularly toothed (i.e. serrate) margins. The uppermost leaves are usually much smaller, narrower (i.e. almost linear), with margins that are almost entire. Leaves can be with or without hairs, but usually have some short stiff hairs, especially when they are young.

Flowers and fruits 

The flower-heads (i.e. capitula) are narrow (8-12 mm long) and pink or occasionally purplish in colour. They lack any 'petals' (i.e. have no ray florets) and are borne at the tips of branched stems. Flowering mostly occurs from autumn through to spring. The 'seeds' (i.e. achenes or cypselae) are about 5 mm long with five hairy ribs running lengthwise (i.e. longitudinally). They are topped with a tuft (i.e. pappus) of whitish coloured hairs (about 5 mm long).

Reproduction and dispersal 

This species reproduces only by seed, which are easily blown and dispersed by the wind. Seeds may also be spread by machinery, water, vehicles, animals, and in clothing and contaminated agricultural produce.

Similar species 

A second variety of this species (i.e. Emilia sonchifolia var. sonchifolia) is also present in Queensland, but is mainly found in the northern parts of the state. These two varieties can be distinguished from each other by the following differences: Emilia sonchifolia var. javanica has flower-heads about twice as long as they are broad (10-13 mm long and 6-8 mm wide), with 8-10 green bracts at the base. Each of these flower-heads produces 25-35 seeds

  • Emilia sonchifolia var. sonchifolia has flower-heads about three times as long as they are broad (10-12 mm long and 3-4 mm wide), with 6-10 green bracts at the base. Each of these flower-heads produces 15-30 seeds. Thickhead (Crassocephalum crepidioides) has many attributes that are similar to emilia (Emilia sonchifolia var. javanica). It has pinkish flower-heads without any 'petals' (i.e. ray florets), and it produces similar wind-blown seeds. However, the flower-heads of thickhead (Crassocephalum crepidioides) droop and are more often a pinkish-orange colour, and its upper leaves are not stem-clasping or stalkless (i.e. sessile).