The sunflower is popular, vibrant and known all over the world for its beauty. It is also seen as a symbol of light, hope and innocence.
It is believed that one of the western Native American tribes first domesticated this crop and then brought it eastward and southward of North America.The name sunflower comes from the Greek words helios (sun) and anthos (flower). Though many varieties are yet to be located or are extinct, the one kind that has stood the test of time is the 'Mammoth Russian', often known by other names like 'Russian Giant', 'Russian Greystripe', 'Tall Russian' and 'Mammoth'.
The sunflower is one of four major crops which are native to the United States and of global importance (the other three are blueberry, pecan and cranberry). With several million acres of land used for oilseed production, sunflowers are popular for reasons apart from their ornamental value.
Facts show that wild sunflowers have been used for both medicine and food by Native Americans in the U.S. for over 8,000 years, who started cultivating the sunflower way back in 2300 B.C. Roasted and ground sunflower seeds were popularly used to thicken soups and stews, as well as for baking purposes. Seed-balls made from sunflower butter were used as a carry-along food, while the hulls of these flowers were used to make a drink that tastes somewhat like coffee. The petals were dried and used to make face paint, while dye was extracted from both the petals as well as the hulls. The ground seeds of the sunflower were used to extract oil, which was used by the tribes both for cooking and hair treatment. There were a number of medicinal uses of the sunflower, which included wart removal, sunstroke treatment and snake bite treatment to sunstroke treatment.
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