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Sunflowers - Useful in Crafts, Cooking, Home Decor and of course, in the Garden

Updated on August 2, 2013

The glorious Sunflower

This lens is devoted to the sunflower and their uses. You will find lots of information on growing, using them in recipes, giving sunflower adorned gift ideas and lots of sunny pictures.

Who cannot smile when they see these flowers growing tall and who has not raced schoolfriends and siblings to see who can grow the tallest sunflower.


The sunflower gets its name from the Greek words helios meaning sun and anthos meaning flower. There are some 67 species within the Helianthus genus. Most oilseed and ornamental sunflowers are Helianthus annuus.

However, although a bright and attractive flower, the sunflower does not produce a fragrance. It does, however, have value from an economic and ornamental point of view. The leaves are used as fodder, the flowers yield a yellow dye, and the seeds have many uses in food, fuel etc. The yellow, sweet oil obtained by compression of the seeds is considered equal to olive oil for table use.

Sunflower origins

Archeological evidence suggests that Native Americans began cultivating and improving the sunflower as early as 2300 B.C.

European explorers saw their first sunflower in South America. The Incas grew a tall, single stemmed sunflower from years of selecting and breeding plants from a smaller, native wild flower. Spanish botanists were among the first to receive batches of seeds brought back by the explorers, and by 1580 the sunflower was a common sight in Spanish villages. From Spain, the sunflower spread to Italy, Egypt, India, China, and Russia where it was first grown commercially as an important oilseed crop.

Native Americans in the U.S. have been using wild sunflower for food and medicine for at least 8,000 years. Thus, sunflower cultivation may predate cultivation of the "Three Sisters" of corn, beans and squash. The seeds of sunflower were usually roasted and ground into a fine meal for baking or used to thicken soups and stews. "Seed-balls", similar to peanut butter, made from sunflower butter made a convenient carry-along food for traveling. Roasted sunflower hulls were steeped in boiling water to make a coffee-like beverage. Dye was extracted from hulls and petals. Face paint was made from dried petals and pollen.

When the colonists and explorers sent seed from the New World back to Europe, the sunflower was treated mainly as a curiosity and a garden flower. It was not used as an edible crop again until it reached Russia. In Russia, the Holy Orthodox Church forbade the use of many foods, including many rich in oil, during Lent and Advent. The Russians eagerly accepted the sunflower as an oil source that could be eaten without breaking the laws of the church. Russians also enjoyed sunflowers as a snack food. In the past 50 years, Russians have bred sunflowers for high oil content and improved disease resistance.


Sunflowers in the Kitchen


Sunflower folklore and mythology

Greek Mythology

Clytie, who was either a water nymph or a princess of the ancient city of Babylon*, fell in love with Apollo, god of the sun. For a time the god returned her love, but then he tired of her. The forlorn Clytie sat, day after day, slowly turning her head to watch Apollo move across the sky in his sun chariot. Eventually, the gods took pity on her and turned her into a flower. In some versions of the myth, she became a heliotrope or a marigold, but most accounts say that Clytie became a sunflower.

The Inca Empire

It's said that the natives of the Inca Empire worshipped a giant sunflower, and that Incan priestesses wore large sunflower disks made of gold on their garments. Images of sunflowers were found in the temples of the Andes mountains, and Native American Indians placed bowls of sunflower seeds on the graves of their dead.


The Sunflower is the 3rd wedding anniversary flower and the state flower of Kansas.

Their open faces symbolize the sun itself, conveying warmth and happiness, adoration and longevity.

Roles of Flowers

Sunflowers in the Bathroom

Sunflowers in the Bedroom


The National Sunflower Association

Sunflower is an important agricultural crop choice for US producers in the northern plains of the Dakotas to the panhandle of Texas. Browse this complete site on US sunflower production to learn about the sturdy sunflower and the healthy products it provides.

Click on the Image..........................................................................

Sunflowers in the Lounge

Van Gogh's Sunflowers

No mention of sunflowers would be complete without the famous artwork by Vincent Van Gogh. All in all there are said to be 15 paintings of sunflowers by Van Gogh, but only one has secured it's place in the hearts of the public. Although Van Gogh's sunflower paintings are very similar in many aspects, each stands out as its own unique work of art. Van Gogh began painting sunflowers after he left Holland for France in pursuit of creating an artistic community. The firsts were created to decorate his friend Paul Gauguin's bedroom. The majority of Van Gogh's sunflowers in vases were created in Arles, France during 1888-1889. Van Gogh did create some sunflower paintings prior to this time though in Paris, France around the time of 1887.


Sunflower Gifts for Her

Sunflower Health and Beauty


Sunflower seeds for health

Sunflower seeds may help with:




Damaged tissues


Alzheimer's disease

Immune system deficiency


Supports organs and systems:


Cardiovascular system



Skin disorders

Digestive system


Immune system

Nutrients found in Sunflower seeds:

Folic acid


Vitamin B5

Vitamin B6




Vitamin A

Vitamin B1

Vitamin B3


Vitamin D

Vitamin E








Omega-6 fatty acids

Vitamin B2



Linoleic acid

Oil, extracted from the ground seeds by boiling, provided many South American tribes with cooking oil and hair treatment. Medicinal uses included everything from wart removal to snake bite treatment to sunstroke treatment.

Sunflowers in Cooking

Sunflower Association
Sunflower Association

Breakfast - Good day Granola

8 cups rolled oats (not instant)

1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar

1 1/2 cups unprocessed bran

1 1/2 cups natural wheat germ (not toasted or honeyed)

3/4 cup roasted sunflower kernel, no salt

1/2 cup sunflower oil

3/4 cup honey

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups raisins

1/2 cup flaked coconut

1/2 cup dried mixed fruit, chopped

Stir oats, brown sugar, bran, wheat germ, and sunflower kernels in a large bowl. Put sunflower oil, honey, and vanilla in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring until bubbly. Pour liquid over dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Divide oat mixture evenly and spread on two rimmed cookie sheets. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes, stirring once to keep granola evenly browned. When completely cool, add raisins, coconut, and dried fruit.

Makes about 18 cups.

Calories 160 (26% from fat); Fat 4.75g (sat .8, mono .95g, poly 2.69g); Protein 3.65g; Carb 27.4g; Fiber 2.52g; Chol 0.

Recipes - Sunflower cheese balls

4 ounces Muenster cheese, room temperature

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon red pepper

2/3 cup roasted, salted sunflower kernels

Combine cheeses, blend thoroughly. (Use food processor, if possible.) Add Worcestershire sauce, paprika, and red pepper; blend. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Roll in sunflower kernels immediately. Refrigerate cheese balls 2 hours. Serve with whole-grain crackers, bread sticks or miniature bread slices.

Makes 25 cheese balls


Onion soup with roasted sunflower kernel

4 medium or 3 large onions

2 Tbsp. butter or margarine

2 1/4 cups beef stock

1 cup white wine

1/2 tsp. caraway seeds

Pepper, to taste

1/3 cup roasted sunflower kernel

8 slices French bread

1 cup Gruyere or Swiss cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Peel onions; slice thinly. Melt butter in heavy skillet; add onions and cook until onions are clear or transparent. Add beef stock, wine, caraway seeds, and pepper; simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Ladle soup into four oven-proof soup bowls; place 2 slices of bread on top of soup in each bowl. Sprinkle with sunflower kernel and cheese. Bake until golden brown.

For crusty tops, place soup bowls under broiler for several minutes before serving.

4 servings

Per serving: Calories, 445; protein, 20 g; carbohydrates, 39 g; fiber, 4.2 g; fat, 23 g; cholesterol, 47 mg; sodium, 700 mg

Sunflowers in the Garden

How to grow sunflowers

Sunflowers in Arts and Crafts

Sunflowers - Paint by numbers

For the budding artist - Paint by numbers this magnificent sunflower display. Majestic sunflowers form the centerpiece of this rustic floral display. Complete instructions show you how to add the details with easy techniques. Kit contains high quality acrylic paints, pre-printed textured art board, a #1 round paintbrush, instructions. Finished Size: 14-Inch by 11-Inch

Kids Costumes

Sunflower Costumes for Children and Babies

The Ultimate Sunflower

From Van Gogh's vibrant masterpiece to its ubiquitous presence in American crafts, from sunflower oil to sunflower seeds to The Sunflower State (Kansas), the friendly sunflower is firmly planted as an intrinsic part of our culture and our daily lives. With its sunny disposition, bright colors, and surprising versatility, it is without a doubt one of the most popular flowers around.

A comprehensive guide to this remarkable flower, The Ultimate Sunflower Book features descriptions of the different species, diagrams of planting schemes, tips on growing giant sunflowers, and step-by-step instructions for creating beautiful arrangements. It also teaches readers how to dry and prepare the flowers for use in cooking and crafts and includes numerous recipes and a host of fun projects. With its gorgeous photographs, eye-catching design, and hardy jacketed paper-over-board format, The Ultimate Sunflower Book is one reference that gardeners, craft enthusiasts, flower arrangers, cooks, and all fans of the sunflower will enjoy leafing through again and again


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