Information On Sunflowers

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What is sunflower? What does sunflower look like, wher do they grow, description, types of sunflowers.

sunflowerSunflower; any of a group of tall, coarse annual or perennial plants with large flower heads that turn to follow the path of the sun. The daisylike flower heads have yellow ray flowers surrounding a center of brown, yellow, purple, or nearly black disk flowers.

Sunflowers make up the genus Helianthns of the composite family (Compositae). One of the most familiar species, the common sunflower (H. annuus), sometimes reaches a height of 15 feet (4.5 meters) and bears huge flower heads over 1 foot (0.3 meter) in diameter. It is widespread in the western prairies of the United States and is the official state flower of Kansas. Several horticultural varieties of this species have been developed, some with attractive yellow and orange disk flowers. In the Soviet Union, India, Argentina, and Egypt, it is widely cultivated for its oily seeds. The oil obtained from the seeds is used in making salad oil, margarine, and candy. The cake that is left after the oil has been pressed out is used as a feed for livestock.

Another well-known sunflower is the Jerusalem artichoke or girasole (H. tuherosus). In Italian the word girasole means “turning to the sun.” This perennial plant grows 5 to 10 feet (1.5-3 meters) tall and bears all-yellow flower heads about 3 inches (76 mm) in diameter. Sometimes it is cultivated for its underground club-shaped tubers that are about 4 inches (10 cm) long. The tubers are edible and are occasionally eaten as a vegetable or used as food for livestock.

Other common sunflowers in North America include the thin-leaved sunflower (H. clecapetalus), the woodland sunflower (H. divaricatus), the swamp sunflower (H. angustifolius), the silverleaf sunflower (H. argophyllus), the giant sunflower (H. giganteus), and the showy sunflower (H. laetiflorus).

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