Sunflower – Helianthus annuus

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Sunflower – Helianthus annuus

Common Name: Sunflower, Common Sunflower

Botanical Name: Helianthus annuus, he-li-AN-thus AN-you-us

Decorative Life: From 5-14 days depending on cultivar and water uptake capabilities.

Flower Color: ,


Harvest Instructions:

Cultivar selection is important to help ensure good postharvest performance. In this regard, readers are encouraged to get a copy of the 1995 Gast paper detailing production and postharvest evaluations of some 36 sunflower cultivars. Lower leaf senescence is common before flowers are ready to be harvested. Leaf expansion can be inhibited by ethylene produced by plants in response to poorly aerated (too much water containing) soils.

Storage Specifics:

32-34F. Should be hydrated with a wetting agent containing solution prior to storage dry.

  • From the Greek “helios” (sun) and “anthos” (flower) because the sunflower turns its head toward the sun. The specific epithet name annuus means annual in reference to its one year life cycle.
  • The Incas considered the sunflower to be the image of their sun-god and wore golden disks with its likeness that were coveted by the Spanish conquerors.
  • Sunflower seeds were a sacred food for the Plains Indians, who placed bowls of seed on graves to sustain the dead in their after life journey. Often grown for bird feed.
  • Many new cultivars have been developed in the past ten years, with single and double flower forms, bicolored petals. Some cultivars are somewhat ethylene sensitive even though most members of the aster family are not ethylene sensitive. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology list this species as an allergy-safe pollen producing plant.
  • These native American flowers were originally grown more for their usefulness than their beauty, as the oil from sunflower seeds is used for food, soap, paint and cosmetics. The Compositae or aster family is vast, with over 20,000 species, and is also one of the most developed families. It was named Compositae because the flowers are actually a “composite” of many individual flowers into one head. Hence, when children pull one “petal” off at a time, saying “she/he loves me, loves me not”, they are actually removing a complete flower, not just a petal.
Recent Research Findings:

Gast (1998) showed that the cultivar ‘Primrose’ did not last as long as ‘Del Sol’, Moonshadow’, ‘Lemon Eclair’ or ‘Sundrops’. Starman et al. (1995) rated this species (‘Sunrich Lemon’) as being a poor income producer.