The bright and cheerful sunflower, one of the most popular summer flowers, is one of the most versatile plants in the world. Gardeners love them because they are very easy to grow, low maintenance and quick growing. There are many different varieties to choose from, ranging in assorted colours, sizes and forms.
Here are some ways the sunflower can be used other than as an ornamental flower:
- As you know, sunflower seeds are edible. They can be eaten raw, cooked, roasted or dried. They are a popular, nutritious snack containing a good source of protein, vitamins A, B, and E, calcium, nitrogen and iron.
- Traditionally, North American Indians ground the seeds to make flour for cakes and breads.
- The petals are also edible; they can be cooked and eaten like artichokes.
- Humans aren’t the only ones that find sunflowers tasty. The seed heads are also a source of food for birds and animals. Sunflower seeds are a major ingredient in commercial birdseed.
- Sunflower leaves are used as feed for livestock.
- Sunflower oil is a popular vegetable oil known for its light colour, mild flavour, low levels of saturated fats and ability to withstand high cooking temperatures.
- The oil can also be added to soap, lubricants and candles.
- Sunflower oil can help relieve skin conditions, hemorrhoids and ulcers.
- Sunflower roots can remove radiation from soils and water. They were used to clean up the Chernobyl disaster.
- The root of the plant is also used in traditional herbal medicine to treat snakebites and spider bites. The leaves can be made into tea to relieve fevers, lung ailments and diarrhea.
- The flowers can be used to make an all natural dye.
- The stalks are used to make paper and clothes.