Botanist's Glossary

Sunflower - Helianthus annuus

  • Description
    • The sunflower (Asteraceae family) is a tall annual plant that can grow to a height of 2 to 3 meters. Its flower has golden-yellow petals and a diameter that goes from 30 to as far as 50 cm. Sunflowers are heliotropic (they turn to face the sun) and have the distinctive characteristic of tracking the sun until they flower. After that, the flowers remain in position, facing East to South-East. The small dry fruits that contain the sunflower seeds are loved by birds.
  • Traditions
    • Native to North America, where it was cultivated by the American Indians, the sunflower was imported into Europe at the end of the 16th century as an ornamental flower. From the 1970's, it was increasingly cultivated as an oil-yielding plant, then sunflower farming became industrialized. Alongside the rapeseed and olive, it is one of the three main sources of oil for human consumption in Europe.
  • Properties
    • Sunflower oil is obtained by mechanical pressing of the seeds. Rich in Omega-6, a vital constituent of cellular membranes, this oil nourishes and protects skin subjected to daily aggressions. It is also an excellent hair conditioner for dry, damaged and fragile hair.

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