Helianthus comprises 70 species of annual and perennial flowering plants in the daisy family. Asteraceae is known as the daisy family. The common name of helianthus is Sunflower or Common Sunflower. Sunflower belongs to the annual species of helianthus annuus. The combination of round flower heads with ligules resembles the sun. Sunflowers are cultivated in tropical regions for humans, cattle, poultry, and ornamental plants.
Origin of Sunflowers
The origin of sunflowers is America. The first domestication of the sunflower was done in Mexico and the Southern United States. The seeds of domestic sunflowers were found in Mexico around 2100 BC. Native Americans used to grow sunflowers as a crop. It was grown from Mexico to Canada. In the 16th century, the seeds of the sunflower were brought to Europe by explorers.
The growth of sunflowers is around 30 feet tall. They have bright yellow ray on the outer side, whereas, maroon on the inner side. The plantation and growth of the sunflower are determined by two seasons, which are, mid-summer and beginning of fall. If you want more of them, the better if you try to cultivate them to their full potential. Pick a well-drained spot and dig an area of 2 to 3 feet in circumference and 2 feet deep. Sunflowers are very nutritious and are soil depleting than other crops, especially if you grow them to massive heights, so the nutrient supply needs to be replenished each season.
The structure and nature of the sunflower symbolize adoration, loyalty, and longevity. One can give sunflowers to someone to make them happy and to bring joy to someone’s day.
Fun Facts about Sunflower
- Sunflowers are native to Americans and they were cultivated for medicine, oil, seed, and dye.
- The young sunflowers face the sun and they follow the direction of the sun from sunrise to sunset. But some people say that they a circadian rhythm which makes them from sunrise to sunset.
- The mature sunflowers face East from where the sun rises. If you want to take a picture of sunflowers facing one direction, then a mature sunflowers field would be the best shot.
- A sunflower can grow best only if it gets 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day. For full growth of sunflowers, they should be planted at distance. When they start to grow, they compete with one another and some of them do not grow fully because of less sunlight.
- They say that sunflowers are composed of thousands of tiny flowers. If you look closely at the brown center of the sunflower, you will notice that there are tiny flowers.
- The petals of sunflowers are also different individual flowers.
- There are 70 species of sunflower. Some of them are white, red and purple.
- There are two types of sunflowers: giant sunflowers (30 feet) and dwarf sunflowers (2 feet).
- Bees attracted to sunflowers help in the self-pollination of sunflowers.
- Sunflowers are planted to absorb the toxins from the soil such as nuclear radiation.
- French call sunflowers as tournesol, meaning, turns with the sun.
An ounce of shelled or dry-roasted sunflower seeds has the following nutrients:
Uses of Sunflower
Vegetable Cooking Oil
Native Americans were the first to discover the wonderful properties of sunflower and the cooking oil extracted from it. Nowadays, it is being used as a healthy vegetable cooking oil across the globe. The saturated fat in it makes it healthy for cooking which means that it does not have any unhealthy type of fat content.
- You can fry and roast vegetables with it.
- You can use it as a base for salad oil dressing.
- You can use it as margarine or butter for baking cakes, cookies, and other baking stuff.
- Apart from cooking, you can use it as a massage oil too.
- You can make facial scrubs from sunflower oil.
The sunflower seeds are edible and can be used as a snack. You can use it as a healthy and nutritious snack for a balanced diet. The seeds can be eaten raw, just as they are. You can roast them and sprinkle spices or flavor according to your needs or you can sprinkle the crushed seeds on top of salads to make them crunchy.
If you are having backyard birds, you can use black-oil, huller, or striped sunflower seeds to feed the birds. If you want to attract a bigger selection of birds, then you can use black-oil seeds.
Blooming Beautiful Plant
Sunflowers make an amazing display in your garden because of their height and bright yellow color. Depending on the variety of sunflower, they can be tall or short, yellow or orange or even red. If you want to make a bouquet for your home or bride, then yellow sunflowers are a good option along with white and red sunflowers to make it more attractive than a rose or tulip flower bouquet.
The petals of the sunflower can be used for making the natural dye. The color range could be from yellow to orange. The seeds of the sunflower are also used to make a natural dye. These natural dyes can be used to color the fabrics and yarns without using any unnatural or chemical dye.
Health Benefits of Sunflower
Malaria fever is extremely dangerous and makes one feel very sick. In malaria fever, one tends to have shakes and chills. It can easily kill a person if it is not treated properly. Sunflower can be used to treat malaria because it comes with therapeutic properties. A tincture of sunflower leaf is prepared and covered in a moist towel and it is wrapped around the patient. The perspiration produces from the moist towel and the patient will help to remove the fever and recedes the illness.
Arthritis is a disease that mainly affects older people. The joints of the hands, feet, elbows, and ankles swell and become stiff. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common types of arthritis and it becomes worst as the patient ages.
Sunflower leaves are used to prepare a poultice and it is applied directly to the joints. The swelling can be reduced and the pain can be controlled using the poultice. Tea made from sunflower leaves can also help you to prevent arthritis.
The sunflower leaves can be used to dress wounds or ulcers. Crushed sunflower leaves can be applied to the wound and left to dry. The antibacterial properties of sunflower leave dry the wound and heal it completely.
A Source of Calcium
A high concentration of calcium is in the lowermost leaves of the sunflower plant. It is essential for strengthening, forming, and making bones strong.
A Source of Vitamin B
Sunflower is a rich source of vitamin B. It produces folic acid too. Vitamin B is necessary during pregnancy because it helps to develop the nervous system of the baby. It aids in blood circulation and stress relief for the mother.
1 ounce of sunflower seeds reduces the blood sugar by 10% within six months, if they use it daily. The chlorogenic acid in the plant helps to reduce the blood sugar level by using sunflower seeds. If you add sunflower seeds with the bread, you can decrease the carbs’ effect on blood sugar level.
Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, which can combat free radicals that can damage cell membranes, brain cells, and also cholesterol. Vitamin E also prevents asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
The content in sunflower seeds will protect the skin from exposure to sunlight and slow the aging process and will make the skin look bright.
Small but cayenne pepper. This is a fitting expression for these sunflower seeds. The seeds are rich in selenium that can fix damaged body cells and prevent cancer. 50 grams of sunflower seeds a day will reduce the risk of prostate cancer, bladder cancer, and colon cancer.
Magnesium and calcium were also contained in the sunflower seed. These two substances are needed for strong bones. These substances are needed by the bones and joints so flexible. Also, vitamin E will help reduce rheumatic disease.
Prevent Heart Disease
As mentioned previously, vitamin E contained by sunflower seed plays an important role in the health of internal organs. Vitamin E prevents free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol can prevent heart disease and stroke.
Take 30 grams of sunflower, then boiled with the chicken eggs (do not break). Boil in 3 cups of water until the remaining ½ cup. Then the cooking water is drunk after meals twice a day
Pour 30 grams of sunflower seeds, then steamed for approximately 1 hour. Once cool add rock sugar to taste, then drink.
Urinary Tract Infections
Boil 30 grams of fresh sunflower roots. When boiled, immediately lifted and drink while still warm will cure urinary tractions.
Apart from the display and eye-catcher in the garden, sunflower and its seeds are of great nutrition and health benefits. If you are health conscious and have a backyard, then you must plant sunflowers to make sure that your garden looks good and you maintain the health too.