Sunflowers use their hollow stems like a giant straw, drawing in up to a gallon of water per foot of height per week!
Sunflowers have the amazing ability to extract toxic waste from the soil. After Chernobyl sunflowers were planted on rafts and set afloat to remove uranium and other toxins from the water. They also suck up arsenic and lead.
Sunflower seeds provide us with Vitamin B6, selenium, magnesium, copper, zinc and iron. They also provide enough protein to make them a meat replacement which is probably why they are the official symbol of the vegan society.
In ancient times sunflowers were used to treat blindness, bronchitis, coughs, dysentery, fever, influenza, fractures, malaria, rheumatism, wounds, snake bites and even the common cold.
There are two types of seeded sunflowers – oil and confectionary. It takes 762 square meters (2500 square feet) of growing space to produce 11 litres (three gallons) of oil.
Confectionary sunflowers are the ones that produce the striped seeds that you buy in the stores to snack on or shelled out and ready to sprinkle on salads. Four heads of confectionary sunflowers will produce about half a kilogram (one pound) of unshelled seed while seven heads will provide half a kilogram (one pound) of shelled seed.
The average person will eat 2.5 kilograms (five pounds) of seeds per year. To provide all the seeds you need for a year for a family of four you would require 140 plants and a 3 x 8 meter (10 X 26 foot) plot to grow them in.
Sunflowers take approximately 100 days to grow from seeding to harvest.
The genus name Helianthus comes from the Greek word Helios which means sun and anthos meaning flower. The sunflower actually turns its flower head to follow the sun as it makes its way across the sky. At night it pivots its head all the way back from west back to east where it remains fixated on the horizon waiting for the sun to rise again.
Sunflowers can grow up to 4.25 meters (14 feet) tall depending on the variety you select.