In researching Sunflowers and their many uses and properties, it is hard to know where to start as to the interest and,  of course, the joy we perhaps all share in raising or gazing at the gorgeous flowers.
A good start is "The Sunflower Project". I am including Sunflower links at the bottom of this page. When you read the Sunflower project,you may have noticed that Sunflowers have become an important symbol to many people in recent years. The quotation from an article in this project (below) should give you an idea of the sharingness that Sunflowers  symbolize:

"On June 4, 1996, the defense ministers of the U.S., Russia, and Ukraine gathered at the Pervomaisk missile base to celebrate Ukraine's transfer of its nuclear warheads to Russia for dismantling.

The defense ministers planted sunflowers where missiles were once buried.

U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry stated,

"Sunflowers instead of missiles in the soil would ensure peace for future generations."

Within this site, you may sign a petition to include this gesture as a symbol of peace together with others who wish to ensure peace in the future.


I have always grown sunflowers, recently Red Sunflowers which are three feet high and the tall white-seeded variety having enormous 15 inch heads of seed. Sunflowers epitomize the crunchy-granola style of country garden I have always adored.

 When I picked some of my sunflower heads off a couple of years ago, the petals became a silk texture I could not resist using for a web background (Shown on the properties page).

Though I have always included sunflower seeds (hulled) in my granola recipes or in trail mix, salads, breads, I had no idea that Sunflowers had medicinal properties which were quite dynamic... In reading older texts as well as in researching on the WWW, I found that Russian herbalists employ Sunflower plants to cure or assist in relieving malarial symptoms:
The stricken patient is asked to lie wrapped in a cloth sprinkled with milk and laid upon sunflowers, and the combination produces perspiration and reduces malarial fever. The process is repeated with fresh cloths over three days of treatment.

This remedy is in several texts and, though Malaria is non-existent in North America, it is certainly a handy bit of knowledge if you travel in the tropics. Since we take our shots and fly abroad, confident in the knowledge that all is taken care of, our parents have not handed down so many of these seemingly simple folk cures.

I always take these concepts into consideration, since some of my prescriptions now cost two hundred dollars a bottle.I imagine that I have saved a good thousand dollars a year growing and designing medicines of my own, and I am probably not exaggerating!

Sunflowers are perhaps the oldest cultivated indigenous plant in North america. Records date back 8,000 years in the use of Sunflowers for face pigment, clothing dye, seed foods, and the extraction of Sunflower oil through boiling.

(Here is another handy idea. I am a vegetarian, and I always wondered  how to procure cooking oil when stuck for a place to buy it. Hopefully, there will never be such a holocaust, and I will never be lost for a year, or a season, in the wilderness.)

I have never thought of this before, but carrying viable packages of oil - producing sunflower seeds as well as other seed varieties in the first aid or emergency kit would be an ideal survivor tool.

I carry alfalfa, celery and radish seed in my First Aid kit, so that I can always grow sprouts. Sunflower seeds may be sprouted for exta nutrition, toasted for food, and even roasted and then boiled for a soothing medicine for types of bronchial affection.

I am always reminded of the poem, Innisfree...

"I will rise and go now,
Go back to Innisfree,
...and a small cabin build there,
Of clay and wattles made.
Nine bean rows will I have there,
And a hive for the honeybee,
and live alone, in the
bee-loud glade."

Below, some knowledge abstracted from a Horticultural Newsletter from a State University.

"The sunflower is one of only four major crops of global importance native to the United States (blueberry, cranberry, and pecan are the other three.

Native Americans in the U.S. have been using wild sunflower for food and medicine for at least 8,000 years... Archeological evidence suggests that Native Americans began cultivating and improving the sunflower as early as 2300 B.C. Thus, sunflower cultivation may predate cultivation of the "Three Sisters" of corn, beans and squash. ...Oil, extracted from the ground seeds by boiling, provided many tribes with cooking oil and hair treatment. Medicinal uses included everything from wart removal to snake bite treatment to sunstroke treatment."

Try to access the link, then add the following after edu/.


Mrs Grieves 'A Modern Herbal' has several pages on the viability of cropping for silage and litter. Litter is actually shredded sunflower material consisting of the stems and seedless headsmade into bedding for chickens, and silage is used for cattle food.

Studies made by F.B. Linfield (what a name!-linoleic acid...)in a work entitled The Joural of Heredity, showed that milk production was not impaired or tainted in the use of sunflowers as food.An advantage in raising and cropping sunflowers is that the large plants shade the ground, controlling weed growth.
A Modern Herbal- more from Mrs Grieves on Sunflowers


I found a dyers site which lists Sunflower petals as the source of colour pigments gray, green, orange, yellow and tan. Another site proves that, yes, Sunflower stems may be used in paper-making, something I had never thought of before.

Raising Sunflowers

Growing Sunflowers has always semed easy to do, but for best results, if you are scientific, good soil with adquate water-retention and levels of phosphorus and potassium are recommended.

"Sunflowers should not be water stressed during the critical period; about 20 days before and after flowering."

Sunflower Species

Common Sunflower (H. annuus) - Includes the cultivars H. bismarkianus's, single yellow flower, 6 to 8 feet tall; H. citrinus, primrose yellow flowers, 6 to 8 feet tall; H. giganteus, Russian Giant, large, single yellow flower grown mainly for seeds, 10 to 12 feet tall.

Silverleaf Sunflower (H. argophyllus) - Stems and leaves covered with silky gray down, especially on younger growth. Flowers golden with purplish brown center, plants 5 to 6 feet tall. Silvery leaves used in fresh and dried flower arrangements.

Cucumberleaf Sunflower (H. debilis) - Four-foot plants with multiple branches. Excellent for cutting. Three-inch flowers have a purple disk and yellow rays.

The above section is from an Ohio State University website which states:

"All educational programs conducted by Ohio State University Extension are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, age, disability or Vietnam-era veteran status."

Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Ag. Adm. and Director, OSU Extension.

TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio only) or 614-292-1868

Growing Sunflowers/Ohio State U.HYG-1228-92 Charles T. Behnke

Other Links of Interest:

Dye Sources in Nature

Other Uses: Culinary; Medicinal.

As usual, Hawaii has been there...essay is somewhere available...The Hawaii U Botan y department has a really extensive reference site.

This is listed as helianthus anuum but not linked. Letters to the botanical Department would probably yeild the readings for those esoterically involved with Sunflower research.

Stock photos/sunflowers etc.

Commercial interest site- nuts and seeds

"Most sunflower seeds are processed for their oil. The rest -- less than 25% of the total -- are for consumption. Oil seeds are generally small and black; the confectionery seeds (which are what we eat) are usually striped. "  A nut company to check out...

native seeds co.

 "A Native American domesticate, the seeds are eaten raw or roasted, pressed for oil, planted as an ornamental or for bird feed.

The black-seeded variety is used for basketry dye material by the Hopi. Approx. 25 seeds/packet. ....Seedsaving
Sunflowers are insect-pollinated annuals, and all varieties will cross. Protect maturing seed heads from the birds with paper sacks or cloth bags (pillow cases work great). Allow seeds to dry in the flower heads. Rub out seeds and winnow off chaff."

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