- Helianthus annuus L.
- Composite family
Parts Usually Used
Whole plant, especially the seeds
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
Sunflower is an annual plant growing 6-10 feet high; leaves mostly
alternate, rough-hairy, broadly heart or spade-shaped. The flowers
are orange-yellow; disk flat, flowers from July to October. The wild
parent of the domesticated sunflower.
Found on prairies, roadsides. Minnesota to Texas; escaped from cultivation
elsewhere. A North American native plant.
The seeds are exceptionally rich in polyunsaturates (approx. 80%)
and high quality plant protein, plus natural vitamins and minerals.
(thiamine (B1), niacin, potassium, iron, phosphorus, calcium, iodine,
fluorine, magnesium, sodium, vitamins D and E).
Legends, Myths and Stories
The wild ancestor of the common Sunflower has smaller blooms than
the cultivated plants.
Competitions are organized to see who can grow the largest sunflower.
The present record is 25 feet tall; the largest blossom ever found
was over 32 inches across. (Cultivated plants; (H. giganteus))
There are many good varieties of sunflower available; some are best
for seed production, and others for ornamental value.
In 1835 a practical gardener in the Ukraine cultivated the first
commercial sunflower plantation. Fifteen or twenty years later, the
waste areas of central Russia, Ukraine, south Russia and many parts
of Siberia were covered with the plants.
Native Americans used the seeds as a source of meal; the Spanish
conquerors of South and Central America discovered the sunflower and
its uses, carrying the seeds to the Old World spreading the plant
across Europe. The Incas of Peru made the sunflower a part of religious
The Chinese cultivate sunflower and use it for food, the fruits are
fed to fowls, the leaves are made fodder for cattle, and the stalks
and roots are used as fuel. No medical qualities have been found ascribed
to this plant by the Chinese.
Native Americans used the tea of the flowers for lung ailments, malaria.
Leaf tea used for high fevers;
poultice of roots on snakebites
and spider bites. Seeds
and leaves are diuretic and expectorant. Seeds contain all the important
nutrients that benefit the eyes and relieve constipation.
Useful against dysentery,
inflammations of the bladder and
kidney. The leaves are astringent and used in herbal tobaccos.
Formulas or Dosages
Make sure the seeds are fresh.
Decoction: 2 oz. of seeds to 1 quart of water: boil down to
12 oz. and strain. Add 6 oz. of Holland gin and 6 oz. of honey. The
dose is 1-2 tsp. 3 or 4 times a day.
Oil: unrefined oil has similar properties to the seeds. Take
10-15 drops or more, 2-3 times a day.
Protein, thiamine (B1), niacin, potassium, iron, vegetable fats,
phosphorus, calcium, iodine, fluorine, magnesium, sodium, vitamins
D and E.
Most of the sunflower oil commercially offered has been refined.
It is still relatively valuable but does not have the value of unrefined
oil with its full content of highly unsaturated fatty acids. Also,
the sunflower seeds need not be cooked or roasted, as commercially
offered. Fresh sunflower seeds are best for nutritional value.
Pollen or plant extracts may cause allergic reactions.