sunflowers facts
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How amazing are Sunflowers?

Sunflowers are very tall and bright yellow and easy to grow. Sunflowers can become healthy snacks, valuable oils, and bird seeds.

They were cultivated in North America as far back as 3000 BC.  They were developed for food, medicine, dye, and oil.

Then, Spanish conquistadors exported them to the rest of the world around 1500.

They like 6-8 hours of sunshine a day and can grow 16 feet tall, so make sure they have lots of room.

What would you say if I told you that the big yellow Sunflower could be used for:

The sunflower is a fascinating plant; they make me smile every time I see them outside and have an incredible amount of practical uses.

  • Coffee- from the roasted seeds
  • Oil- from the seeds
  • Tea- from the leaves
  • Paper- from the pith of the stems
  • Dye- from the bright yellow flowers
  • Fuel- from the dried stems
  • Soap- from the oil of the seed
  • Candles- from the oil of the seed
  • Varnish- from the oil of the seed
  • Paint- from the oil of the seed
  • Skincare and treatment for snakebites- from the leaves
  • Food- from the seeds
  • Sunflower seeds

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They contain Vitamin E, protein, fibre, Copper, Zinc and Iron; these are all needed for a healthy, balanced diet. Nan Fran says they can easily be added to cereal and bread recipes or used on their own for a snack; I always use them in my recipes. You can even grind the seeds to make flour.

The seeds contain oil; this oil is used for cooking and is as good as olive oil. The oil of the seed is not just used for cooking it is also used to make various materials such as soaps and candles.

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Sunflower oil can also be used to make Biodiesel

So what is biodiesel?

Biodiesel is a fuel used to power vehicles; it is used instead of petrol, which uses oil drained from the earth.

Biodiesel is made using ethanol from plant materials such as rapeseed, sunflowers and sugar cane. It sounds great, but there are so many cars, and they will have to grow so many plants. Where will they get the space?

That’s the problem. It sounds great, but the truth is that they cut down large parts of the rainforest to grow plants for biofuels. With more and more people driving bigger cars, they cut down more forests to make more fuel.

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Parts of the Sunflower

The Stems – We do not think it is fair that the old trees be cut down for the paper. Especially when you can make a paper just as good from the woody stems of the sunflower, this means we can leave the trees to grow and use the wood of the sunflower, which grows and dies every year, following and replanting its seeds the next season. The stems can also be used for making thread and rope.

The Leaves – The big hairy leaves of the sunflower have a long fascinating history. The Native North Americans used their leaves to make a treatment for snake bites and tea to drink.

The Flowers -The bright yellow petals of the flower are used to make a dye for clothes and materials.

Take a look at Nan Frans’s Sunflower seed bread recipe.