Also called the Triumfetta Burr, this shrub exhibits a strange habit. The shape of the leaves are quite unique, being lobed with 3 main points. Another related plant, Urena lobata has similar leaves but tends to be smaller and has purple flowers. The leaves of T. rhomboidea are very variable and when not in flower the leaves appear to be of a larger form. Then when it gets into flowering and fruiting mode the leaves start becoming very small. The flowers come out in long sprays, making the entire plant look very unkempt. But up close the bright yellow flowers are highly attractive.
T. rhomboidea is an ubiquitous non-native shrub! I’ve seen it in rainforest edges, eucalypt forest, roadside, front yards, cane fields – just about every time I go out I see it. A very adaptable plant indeed. And very well dispersed. The burr fruits attach themselves to mammals, and I imagine many a bushwalker, and that has led to it’s huge success. It is widely distributed in tropical and subtropical Malay Peninsula, India, Ceylon, , Africa, China and in America and is a medicinal plant in some of these regions (see pdf) In folklore remedy among the tribal population in Kolli Hills, South India, the plant was used in the treatment of cancer. In Ayurveda medicine, the bitter and acrid root is used for dysentery and also as an aphrodisiac and as a tonic. The leaves and stem are poulticed and applied on tumors. In different regions of East Africa, the powdered leaf infusions of T. rhomboidea are drunk as a treatment of anemia.