Did you know that
although Sunflower is american native plant it was the Russians who
first cultivated it on a large scale?
Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
Greek "helios" means sun and "anthos" means flower,
thus Sunflower. What better name for a plant that turns its flower to
face directly into the sun as it passes and almost mirrors the sun in
its yellow rays?
Sunflower - Helianthus annuus
This Sunflower was
brought into cultivation over three thousand years ago by Native
Americans in the what is now the western U. S. They selected the
largest seeds to plant and thus produced a much larger seed than the
wild plant had. Introduced into Europe in the sixteenth century it was
the Russians who first cultivated it on a large scale. Plants the
Russians developed were then reintroduced in the U. S. Now cultivated
around the world for food, oil, fuel and fiber it is one of the most
familiar plants on the earth. The Sunflower motif is often seen in art,
fashion and interior design.
In addition to
filling birdfeeders the seed produce an oil used in cooking and many
food products including margarine. The oil is also used to make soap
Americans used the seeds for food. The ate the seeds raw, roasted,
boiled, made them into gravy, gruel and breads. There are numerous
accounts of braves taking a carefully wrapped cake or ball made from
the seeds to eat when they became fatigued to provide quick
stimulation. In addition to eating the seeds they produced oil from
them, although the wild plants may have been preferred to the
cultivated ones for oil production. Various tribes ascribed various
medical and magical powers to the plant and it played a role in
ceremony in some tribes as well.