Sunflower: Nourishment | Flower Profile

Sunflower

Sunflower, Helianthus annuus, is an herbaceous annual plant in the family Asteraceae, grown for its seeds. The plant has a thick, hairy, erect stem which gives rise to a large flower head. The plant has large, broad lower leaves which are oval and arranged alternately on the stem and smaller, narrower upper leaves which are attached individually to the stem. The flower head is a large disc reaching 10–30 cm (4–12 in) in diameter which is made up of 16–30 individual florets which are yellow-gold in color.

The outer florets are sterile and produce the outer petals of the flower head, while the inner florets will mature into the seeds in the central disc. Sunflowers are annual plants, harvested after one growing season and can reach 1–3.5 m (3.3–11.5 ft) in height. Sunflower may also be referred to as girasole and originates from North America.

As a native plant of North America, no other plant has had such an impact and significance as the sunflower. The common name, “sunflower”, typically refers to the popular annual species Helianthus annuus, or the common sunflower, whose round flower heads in combination with the ligules look like the glowing sun. In Greek, helios means sun and anthos means flower, thus the name Sunflower. 

Usage

There are two types of commercial uses for sunflowers. One is to produce edible seeds, and the other is to produce oil. Refined Sunflower-seed oil is edible (as many of us are familiar with) due to the seeds-containing 39 to 49% oil. Sunflower seeds account for about 14% of the world production of seed oils. 

Sunflower oil is generally considered a premium oil because of its light colour, high level of unsaturated fatty acids and lack of linolenic acid, bland flavour and high smoke points. Making the Sunflower the preferred and the most commonly used oil.

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