ITALIAN WHITE SUNFLOWERS (Helianthus cucumerifolius)
Also, Helianthus annuus (common sunflower)
Cucumber-leaf Sunflower, ‘Italian White’
From the National Sunflower Association, the sunflower is “an important source of food. Sunflower oil is a valued and healthy vegetable oil and sunflower seeds are enjoyed as a healthy, tasty snack and nutritious ingredient to many foods.”
From the Wikipedia, “Leaves of the sunflower can be used as cattle feed, while the stems contain a fibre which may be used in paper production.”
This site gives an interesting history of sunflowers (source?)
Native Americans in the U.S. have been using wild sunflower for food and medicine for at least 8,000 years….
The seeds of sunflower were usually roasted and ground into a fine meal for baking or used to thicken soups and stews. “Seed-balls”, similar to peanut butter, made from sunflower butter made a convenient carry-along food for traveling. Roasted sunflower hulls were steeped in boiling water to make a coffee-like beverage. Dye was extracted from hulls and petals. Face paint was made from dried petals and pollen.
Here, you can read about medicinal uses (cancer treatment??)
The CherryGal website gives some other interesting information about sunflowers:
Sunflowers in the bud stage exhibit heliotropism – which means they follow the sun. Give your kids a science lesson by showing them how at sunrise the faces of most sunflowers are turned East and over the course of the day that will ship to the West, returning at night to an eastward orientation. This motion is performed by motor cells in the pulvinus, a flexible segment of the stem just below the bud. At the bud stage ends, the stem stiffens and the blooming stage is reached.
Order seeds from CherryGal or from Millington Seed Co.