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With its blooming face directed towards sun, this flower has been correctly named as sunflower. Scientifically it is known as Helianthus which is from the Greek for "sunflower". In French, they are called "tournesol", and in Italian, "girasole."

Native to America, Sunflower is believed to have dated back since 2300 BC. A prominent symbol of the sun deity, including the Aztecs and the Otomi of Mexico and the Incas in South America, the sunflower has been associated with the cultural threads ever since its evolution. According to many researchers Spanish adopted the flower due to its association with solar power and warfare.


The sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is an annual plant in the vast flowering Family Asteraceae with a large flower head (inflorescence). With a presumable height of about 3 m, the plant bears the beautiful and large round flowers with a diameter of about 30 cms. Heliotropism is the behaviour that the plant depicts as it turns its head towards the sun.

What we think to be the flower is infact a bunch of numerous flowers crowded together. The outer flowers are referred to as ray florets and can be of various colours especially yellow, maroon, orange and so on. These flowers are sterile and thus play no part in pollination. Disc florets fill

the circular part of the big flower from inside. These disc floret later turn into seeds which are edible in various forms. However, what we commonly call the seeds are actually the fruit (an achene) of the plant, with the true seeds encased in an inedible husk.

Sunflowers thrive well in fertile, moist and well drained soil which is covered with plenty of mulch. The most essential feature of the sunflower is that it survives best in sunlight. In case of cultivating the plant , make sure that you plant the seeds on proper gaps and deeper in soil.


Sunflower oil, extracted from the seeds is used as a multipurpose oil. Widely used a nutritious cooking oil, it is comparatively cheaper than olive oil. A variety of sunflowers produce oils which differ in nutritional content and some of them also contain healthy mono unsaturated fats, at times even more than olive oil.
Sunflower oil can also be used as a carrier oil, and to manufacture margarine and bio-diesel.
In different regions Sunflower seeds are used as a crunchy snack. These are roasted with or without salt to enhance their crispy flavour.
Sun butter is processed from the seeds as a peanut butter alternative in countries like China, Russia, the United States, the Middle East, Europe and many more.

It is also sold as food for birds and can be used directly in cooking and salads.
The extracts remaining after the oil has been processed from the seeds are used as animal feed.
The cake remaining after the seeds have been processed for oil is used as a livestock feed. Sunflowers also produce latex and this can enhance its production as an alternative crop for producing hypoallergenic rubber.
Sunflower is also used in many perfumes due to its exotic scent.

Interesting Facts
The sunflower is the state flower of the US state of Kansas, and one of the city flowers of Kitakyushu, Japan.
The sunflower is often used as a symbol of green ideology, much as the red rose is a symbol of socialism or social democracy. The sunflower is also the symbol of the Vegan Society.
In 18th century, sunflower oil became highly popularized in Europe, as it was the only oil that was not prohibited during Lent.
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.

Surprisingly commercial farmers term these plants as unwanted weeds that can assume negative effect on their main crops.
However, for commercial farmers growing commodity crops, the sunflower plant, like any other unwanted plant, is often considered a weed. Especially in the midwestern USA, wild (perennial) species are often found in corn and soybean fields and can have a negative impact on yields.

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