Posted by admin | Posted in Sunflower | Posted on 18-03-2015

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Sunflower seeds are a nice snack.  But there’s so much more to this plant.

Helianthus annuus
[hee-lee-AN-thus AN-yoo-us]

Family: Compositae

Names: Marigold of Peru; Stonecznik (Polish); Solros (Swedish); Solsikke, Solvendel (Norwegian); Almindelig Solsikke (Danish); Isoauringonkukka (Icelandic); Sonnenblume (German); anil, helianto (Spanish); Hélianthe (French); Elianto (Italian); Hivai (Pima)

Description: The broad, heart-shaped leaves are rough and somewhat hairy. Large flower heads consist of twenty to twenty-five showy yellow-orange ray flowers surrounding a yellow, brown or purple-brown central disk. The flowers bloom in midsummer and continue into early fall. The flat seeds develop from the disk flowers and are a delicacy to birds, animals and humans.

Cultivation: Full sun in any well-drained loam. The looser the soil, the deeper the roots can establish themselves. Sow seeds in their shells in spring. Avoid planting near potatoes as growth becomes stunted. Thin or transplant to 12-18 inches apart. Protect tall varieties by planting in a sheltered location. Staking will help only if the stakes are deep enough in the ground. Not suitable for growing indoors. Pick leaves and flower buds as required. Cut flower heads when they droop. Hang until seeds fall. Gather stems in autumn.

History: Sunflower was cultivated by American Indians some 3,000 years ago and has always been revered as an emblem of the sun. During October and November in Hopi pueblos, the unmarried women in the village grind the petals of the flowers into a face powder. They dance in costume, with their faces shining with sunflower gold. In the 15th century, Aztec sun priestesses were crowned with sunflowers, carried them in their hands and wore gold jewelry with sunflower motifs. They were introduced into Europe by Spanish explorers in the 16th century. Large-scale cultivation began in Russia, where the seeds are sold on street corners and offered in large bowls at railway restaurants. All parts are usable. The pith is one of the lightest substances known and is used in scientific laboratories, for manufacturing life-savers and various floats. The Chinese have used it as moxa in acupuncture, and in the making of delicate silks and coarse ropes, having cultivated sunflowers for hundreds of years. The plant’s ability to absorb water from soil has been utilized in the reclamation of marshy land in the Netherlands. Native Americans used the sunflower extensively. The roots became a medicine for snake bite and a cure for rheumatism and inflammation. Native Americans boiled the flower heads, extracted the oil, and applied it to their own heads as hair tonic. State flower of Kansas. In the Language of Flowers, sunflowers mean lofty and pure thoughts and at other times, false riches. Language of flowers: haughtiness

Constituents: The seeds have remarkable nutritional content, including some relatively uncommon nutrients such as vitamin D and copper. The seeds consist of up to 30% protein, in a form that is highly digestible and contains all the amino acids we need as well.

Medicinal Uses: Russian folk healers chop the head of a sunflower, soak the pieces in vodka and soap chips in a sunny place for nine days, and then rub the mixture on the joints of rheumatic patients as a potent liniment. In the American southwest, the dried plant is brewed into a strong tea and added to the bathwater to alleviate arthritic pain and joint swellings. (Use 32 ounces of a standard infusion in the bath.) In medical clinics, Russian doctors prepare decoctions of the seeds for jaundice, malaria, heart conditions, diarrhea, and other ailments. The seeds, browned in the oven, and made into an infusion, make a widely used remedy for whooping cough. In folk remedies in the southwest US, although the taste is very bitter, a decoction of the leaves is made, strained, cooled, and a tablespoon or more is given for high fever until it abates. The same brew is applied to horses’ sores caused by screw-worms.

Flower Essence: Helps those with a distorted sense of self, inflation or self-effacement, low self-esteem or arrogance. Also for poor relationship to father or masculine aspect of Self. Restores balance and wholeness to our sense of identity, nourishes the male aspect of the self in both men and women.

Ritual Uses: Gender: Masculine. Planet: Sun. Element: Fire. Powers: Fertility, Wishes, Health, Wisdom. Herb of the Sun. Sunflower seeds are eaten by women who wish to conceive. To protect yourself against smallpox wear sunflower seeds around the neck, either in a bag or strung like beads. If you cut a sunflower at sunset while making a wish, the wish will come true before another sunset as long as the wish is not too great. Sleeping with a sunflower under the bed allows you to know the truth in any matter. If you wish to become virtuous anoint yourself with juice pressed from the stems of the sunflowers. Sunflowers growing in the garden guard it against pests and grant the best of luck to the gardener. The petals may be gathered and used as a bathing herbe. Often associated with the solar festivals, we find that this herbe has been linked to many of the Sun gods, Apollo in particular. In many cultures the sunflower has become associated with harvest deities and is sometimes linked with Demeter. Sunflowers also have a strong connection with Lammas. Sunflower brings protection against negative energy and to attract joy. An oil of this herbe can be used to consecrate ritual robes.
The dried petals of the sunflower are ground, the powder mixed with yellow cornmeal and used to decorate Hopi women’s faces in the Basket Dance.

Household Uses: Boil flowers for a yellow dye

Culinary Uses: The flower is best eaten in the bud stage when it tastes similar to artichokes. Once the flower opens, the petals may be used like chrysanthemums, the flavor is distinctly bittersweet. Eat raw buds in salad, or steam and serve like artichokes. Roasted like coffee, the seeds produce a delicious drink. Universally, the toasted seed serves as a snack, while coarsely ground seed is used in Portugal and Russia to make a palatable crunchy flatbread.

Culinary Uses: The flower is best eaten in the bud stage when it tastes similar to artichokes. Once the flower opens, the petals may be used like chrysanthemums, the flavor is distinctly bittersweet. Eat raw buds in salad, or steam and serve like artichokes. Roasted like coffee, the seeds produce a delicious drink. Universally, the toasted seed serves as a snack, while coarsely ground seed is used in Portugal and Russia to make a palatable crunchy flatbread.

8 sunflower buds
2 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp bread crumbs
juice of 2 medium lemons.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add sunflower buds. Boil for 2 minutes. While water is boiling, bring a second pot of water to a boil. After the sunflower buds have cooked for 3 minutes, transfer them to the second pot of water. Discard the first pot of water. This gets rid of any bitterness. Continue to cook buds until fork tender. Drain and set aside. In a skillet, melt the butter. Add bread crumbs and stir, sautéing lightly. When bread crumbs turn golden, toss in sunflower buds. Pour on lemon juice to taste, toss to coat. Serve immediately. Garnish, if desired, with sunflower petals. (Edible Flowers from Garden to Palate)

Sunflower Seed Cakes
3 cups fresh or dried hulled sunflower seeds
3 cups water
2 Tbs maple syrup
About 6 Tbs cornmeal
1/2 cup corn or vegetable oil
Combine the sunflower seeds and water in a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 1 hour. Puree the seeds and remaining liquid to a paste in an electric blender or food processor. Stir in the maple syrup and enough cornmeal to form a stiff dough. Form into patties and fry in the oil until browned on both sides. Serves 4 to 6.

Sunflower Seed Soup
2 cups shelled sunflower seeds
3 scallions, chopped (including tops)
6 cups water
1 tsp chopped fresh dill weed.
Simmer all ingredients in a large covered pot, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Sunflower Seed, Petals and Pasta Salad
12 oz rigatoni
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp sunflower petals
1 Tbsp hazelnuts, chopped
1 Tbsp sunflower seeds
1 dessertspoon chives, chopped
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
sunflower petals for garnish
Bring a large pan of water to boiling point, add the rigatoni and cook for 8-10 minutes until al
dente. When cooked, drain. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the garlic and toss in the rigatoni, stir well, remove from the heat and pour into a serving bowl. When cool, cover and chill in the refrigerator. Before serving, mix the sunflower petals, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and chives into the pasta and then stir in the mayonnaise. Decorate with a few fresh petals and serve (Good Enough to Eat)

Sunflower Seed Sweet Potatoes
2 sweet potatoes
¼ cup sunflower seeds
2 tsp butter
4 Tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
Scrub the sweet potatoes and poke holes in them with a fork. Bake in a 425F oven for about 45 minutes. When the potatoes are soft, slit and ad one teaspoon of butter and a sprinkling of sunflower seeds. Drizzle the orange juice onto the potatoes when you’re ready to serve them. (The Herb Quarterly, Summer 1994)

Sunflower Soda Bread
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup each whole wheat flour and yellow cornmeal
½ cup dry roasted sunflower seeds
½ cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
Mix flours, cornmeal, sunflower seeds, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add buttermilk and egg, beat until dough is thoroughly moistened and stretchy, about 2 minutes. Spoon dough into two piles on two greased 10- by 15-inch pans. Flour your hands and pat each portion into a circle about 8 inches in diameter. Cut a ½-inch-deep cross into the top of each loaf. Bake at 375F until golden, about 30 minutes. Rotate pan during baking. Wrap to store. Makes two loaves, about 1 ½ lbs. (The Herb Quarterly Summer 1994)

Sunflower Buds with Lemon-Butter Sauce
4 cups fresh sunflower buds, prepared for use
¼ cup butter
3 Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp minced fresh mint leaves
Wash buds in cold running water, and drain. Place about 1 inch of salted water in saucepan with close-fitting lid. Bring water to a boil, and add sunflower buds. Cover, and let simmer until buds are easily pierced with fork. Drain, and put buds on serving dish. Melt butter in small saucepan. Add lemon juice, salt, pepper, and mint, and stir. Pour sauce over buds and serve (A Feast of Flowers)

Sunflower Seed Cakes
3 cups shelled sunflower seeds, fresh or dried
3 cups water
6 Tbsp fine cornmeal
2 tsp maple syrup
½ cup oil
Simmer the seeds in the wat4er in a heavy saucepan, covered, for 1 hour. Drain and grind. Mix the cornmeal and syrup into the ground seeds, 1 tablespoon at a time, to make a stiff dough. Shape into firm, flat cakes 3 inches in diameter. Brown the cakes in hot oil in a heavy skillet on both sides. Drain on brown paper and serve hot. Makes 15 cakes. (Native Harvests)

Jalapeno Sunflower Pesto
1-2 1“ long fresh jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 ½ cup fresh cilantro, packed slightly
1 ½ cup fresh parsley, packed slightly
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
¼ – ½ cup fresh ground Parmesan cheese
1/3 – ½ cup olive oil
1/3 cup unsalted sunflower nuts, toasted and cooled
Place all ingredients except sunflower nuts in food processor and process until smooth. Adjust jalapeno to your individual taste. Add sunflower nuts and process or other recipe ideas. (The Madison Herb Society Cookbook)

Rich Sunflower Spread
1/3 lb tofu
¼ cup sunflower meal
1 Tbsp sesame tahini
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 Tbsp lemon juice
sprinkle of garlic powder
Mash tofu with a fork until crumbly. Add remaining ingredients, stirring until well blended. Mold into a half sphere, garnished with chopped black olives and parsley and surround with crackers. (The Tumbleweed Gourmet)

Zuni Sunflower Pudding
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1 cup sunflower meal
q cup finely chopped summer squash
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
Grind corn kernels in blender until fairly liquid. Combine with sunflower meal, squash, water, and salt in a heavy covered saucepan. Simmer over very low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. If mixture is not yet thick, uncover pan and continue cooking, watching carefully lest the pudding stick and burn as it thickens. Delicious warm or cold.

Sunflower Seed Cookies
1 cup brown sugar
¾ cup margarine
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
¾ cup wheat germ
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup flaked coconut
½ cup chopped dates
½ cup sunflower seeds
In a large bowl beat brown sugar and margarine together until creamy. Add egg and vanilla and beat. Combine flour, wheat germ, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and coconut. Stir this mixture into the wet mixture, along with the dates and sunflower seeds. Drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Bake in a 350F oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Cool on brown paper or racks. (The Tumbleweed Gourmet)

The Complete Book of Herbs, Lesley Bremness, Viking,
1988, ISBN: 0-670-81894-1
Edible Flowers from Garden to Palate, Cathy Wilkinson Barash, Fulcrum, 1993; ISBN: 1-55591-164-1
The Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Scott Cunningham, 1985, Llewellyn, Publications, ISBN: 978-0-87542-122-3
A Feast of Flowers, Francesca Tillona and Cynthia Strowbridge, Funk & Wagnalls, 1969
Flower Essence Repertory, Patricia Kaminsky & Richard Katz, Flower Essence Society, 1996; ISBN: 0-9631306-1-7
Good Enough to Eat, Jekka McVicar, Kyle Cathie Ltd., 1997; ISBN: 1-85626-227-8
Hints & Pinches, Eugene Ferdinand Walter, Longstreet Press, 1001; ISBN: 0-929264-86-X
Los Remedios, Michael Moore, Red Crane Books, 1990; ISBN: 1-878610-06-6
The Madison Herb Society Cookbook, Madison Herb Society, 1995
Native Harvests, Barrie Kavasch, Vintage Books, 1979; ISBN: 0-394-72811-4
The Tumbleweed Gourmet, Carolyn J Niethammer, University of Arizona Press, 1987; ISBN: 0-8165-1021-0

HERBALPEDIA™ is brought to you by Herbalpedia LLC, PO Box 24 Silver Spring, PA 17575-0245; 717-393-3295; FAX: 717-393-9261; email: URL: Editor: Maureen Rogers. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. Material herein is derived from journals, textbooks, etc. THGMN cannot be held responsible for the validity of the information contained in any reference noted herein, for the misuse of information or any adverse effects by use of any stated material presented

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