Sunflower

Botanical Name ; Helianthus annuus
Family: Asteraceae
Subfamily: Helianthoideae
Tribe: Heliantheae
Genus: Helianthus
Species: annuus
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Angiospermae
Subdivision: Eudicots
Class: Asterids
Order: Asterales

Common Name : Sunflower,Common Sunflower

Habitat :Sunflower is native to the Americas that possesses a large inflorescence (flowering head). It grows in open dry or moderately moist soils on the plains.

Dscription:

Helianthus annuus is a annual flowering plant growing to 3 m (9ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in) at a fast rate.
It is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies.The plant is not self-fertile.It is noted for attracting wildlife.
The sunflower got its name from its huge, fiery blooms, whose shape and image is often used to depict the sun. The sunflower has a rough, hairy stem, broad, coarsely toothed, rough leaves and circular heads of flowers. The heads consist of 1,000-2,000 individual flowers joined together by a receptacle base.

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What is usually called the “flower” on a mature sunflower is actually a “flower head” (also known as a “composite flower“) of numerous florets, (small flowers) crowded together. The outer petal-bearing florets are the sterile ray florets and can be yellow, red, orange, or other colors. The florets inside the circular head are called disc florets, which mature into seeds.

The flower petals within the sunflower’s cluster are usually in a a spiral pattern. Generally, each floret is oriented toward the next by approximately the golden angle, 137.5°, producing a pattern of interconnecting spirals, where the number of left spirals and the number of right spirals are successive Fibonacci numbers. Typically, there are 34 spirals in one direction and 55 in the other; on a very large sunflower there could be 89 in one direction and 144 in the other. This pattern produces the most efficient packing of seeds within the flower head.

Cultivation:
To grow best, sunflowers need full sun. They grow best in fertile, moist, well-drained soil with heavy mulch. In commercial planting, seeds are planted 45 cm (1.5 ft) apart and 2.5 cm (1 in) deep. Sunflower “whole seed” (fruit) are sold as a snack food, raw or after roasting in ovens, with or without salt and/or seasonings added. Sunflowers can be processed into a peanut butter alternative, sunflower butter. In Germany, it is mixed with rye flour to make Sonnenblumenkernbrot (literally: sunflower whole seed bread), which is quite popular in German-speaking Europe. It is also sold as food for birds and can be used directly in cooking and salads. American Indians had multiple uses for sunflowers in the past,such as in bread, medical ointments, dyes and body paints

Propagation :
Seed – sow in mid spring in situ. An earlier start can be made by sowing 2 – 3 seeds per pot in a greenhouse in early spring. Use a fairly rich compost. Thin to the strongest seedling, give them an occasional liquid feed to make sure they do not become nutrient deficient and plant them out in late spring or early summer. Seed, harvested at 12% moisture content and stored, will retain its viability for several years
Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Flowers; Oil; Seed; Stem.
Edible Uses: Coffee; Oil.

Seed – raw or cooked. A delicious nut-like flavour, but very fiddly to extract due to the small size of the seed. Commercially there are machines designed to do this. Rich in fats, the seed can be ground into a powder, made into sunflower butter or used to make seed yoghurt. When mixed with cereal flours, it makes a nutritious bread. Cultivars with up to 50% oil have been developed in Russia. The oil contains between 44 – 72% linoleic acid. The germinated seed is said to be best for seed yoghurt, it is blended with water and left to ferment. The sprouted seed can be eaten raw. A nutritional analysis of the seed is available. Young flower buds – steamed and served like globe artichokes. A mild and pleasant enough flavour, but rather fiddly. Average yields range from 900 – 1,575 kg/ha of seed, however yields of over 3,375 kg/ha have been reported. A high quality edible semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed. It is low in cholesterol, and is said to be equal in quality to olive oil. Used in salads, margarines, or in cooking. The roasted seed is a coffee and drinking chocolate substitute. Another report says the roasted hulls are used. The leaf petioles are boiled and mixed in with other foodstuffs……CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

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Composition:
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Seed (Fresh weight)

* 560 Calories per 100g
* Water : 4.8%
* Protein: 24g; Fat: 47.3g; Carbohydrate: 19.4g; Fibre: 3.8g; Ash: 4g;
* Minerals – Calcium: 120mg; Phosphorus: 837mg; Iron: 7.1mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 30mg; Potassium: 920mg; Zinc: 0mg;
*Vitamins – A: 30mg; Thiamine (B1): 1.96mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.23mg; Niacin: 5.4mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;

Medicinal Uses:    A tea made from the leaves is astringent, diuretic and expectorant, it is used in the treatment of high fevers. The crushed leaves are used as a poultice on sores, swellings, snakebites and spider bites. The leaves are harvested as the plant comes into flower and are dried for later use. A tea made from the flowers is used in the treatment of malaria and lung ailments. The flowering head and seeds are febrifuge, nutritive and stomachic. The seed is also considered to be diuretic and expectorant. It has been used with success in the treatment of many pulmonary complaints. A decoction of the roots has been used as a warm wash on rheumatic aches and pains.

Russian folk healers chop the head of a sunflower, soak the pieces in vodka and soap chips in a sunny place for nine days, and then rub the mixture on the joints of rheumatic patients as a potent liniment.  In medical clinics, Russian doctors prepare decoctions of the seeds for jaundice, malaria, heart conditions, diarrhea, and other ailments.  The seeds, browned in the oven, and made into an infusion, make a widely used remedy for whooping cough.

Other Uses:
Sunflower oil, extracted from the seeds, is used for cooking, as a carrier oil and to produce margarine and biodiesel, as it is cheaper than olive oil. A range of sunflower varieties exist with differing fatty acid compositions; some ‘high oleic’ types contain a higher level of monounsaturated fats in their oil than even olive oil.

The cake remaining after the seeds have been processed for oil is used as a livestock feed. Some recently developed cultivars have drooping heads. These cultivars are less attractive to gardeners growing the flowers as ornamental plants, but appeal to farmers, because they reduce bird damage and losses from some plant diseases. Sunflowers also produce latex, and are the subject of experiments to improve their suitability as an alternative crop for producing hypoallergenic rubber.

Traditionally, several Native American groups planted sunflowers on the north edges of their gardens as a “fourth sister” to the better known three sisters combination of corn, beans, and squash. Annual species are often planted for their allelopathic properties.[citation needed]

However, for commercial farmers growing commodity crops, the sunflower, like any other unwanted plant, is often considered a weed. Especially in the midwestern US, wild (perennial) species are often found in corn and soybean fields and can have a negative impact on yields.

Sunflowers can be used to extract toxic ingredients from soil, such as lead, arsenic and uranium. They were used to remove cesium-137 and strontium-90 from a nearby pond after the Chernobyl disaster, and a similar campaign was mounted in response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

Known Hazards : The growing plant can accumulate nitrates, especially when fed on artificial fertilizers. The pollen or plant extracts may cause allergic reactions

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunflower
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Helianthus+annuus

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