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How amazing are Sunflowers?

Sunflowers are very tall and bright yellow and easy to grow. Sunflowers can be turned into healthy snacks, useful oil, 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, they were exported to the rest of the world by Spanish conquistadors around 1500.

They like 6-8 hours of sunshine a day and can grow to be 16ft 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 really is a fascinating plant, not only do they make me smile every time I see them outside but they 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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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, bread recipes or used on their own for a snack, I use them all the time 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 a variety of materials such as soaps and candles.

Would you like our Dan The Gardener & Friends FREE Activity Book for kids packed full of colouring-in, dot to dot, word searches, recycling tips and diary sheets plus much more?

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 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 forest 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 and replant 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 interesting 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 Sunflower seed bread recipe