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Before consuming wild plants, contact your doctor to make sure it is safe, and make positive identification in the field using a good source such as Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West also contains a glossary of medical terms, maps, and drawings as do all of Michael Moore’s books.)
#38
Common Name: Sunflower 
Latin Name: Helianthus ssp 
Family:  Compositae or Asteridae
 
38(a)
Common Name: Sunflower (Halianthus annuus)
Appearance and Habitat: Common sunflower is a widely branching, stout annual 1 1/2-8 ft. tall, with coarsely hairy leaves and stems. The terminal flowers heads are large and showy, up to 5 in. across. A tall, coarse leafy plant with a hairy stem commonly branched in the upper half and bearing several or many flower heads, the central maroon disk surrounded by many bright yellow rays. Yellow ray flowers surround brown disk flowers.  The state flower of Kansas. The heads follow the sun each day, facing eastward in the morning, westward at sunset; the name in Spanish means turns toward the sun. The plant has been cultivated in Central North America since pre-Columbian times; yellow dye obtained from the flowers, and a black or dull blue dye from the seeds, were once important in Native American basketry and weaving. Native Americans also ground the seeds for flour and used its oil for cooking and dressing hair. In the 19th century it was believed that plants growing near a home would protect from malaria. In the United States and Eurasia seeds from cultivated strains are now used for cooking oil and livestock feed. (1) Open dry or moderately moist soils on the plains.  Western N. America  An annual growing to 3 m (9ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in) at a fast rate.  It is hardy to zone 7 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. (2)
Warnings: The growing plant can accumulate nitrates, especially when fed artificial fertilizers.  The pollen or plant extracts may cause allergic reactions. (3)
Edible Uses: Seed – raw or cooked. A delicious nut-like flavour, but very fiddly to extract due to the small size of the seed. Commercially there are machines designed to do this. Rich in fats, the seed can be ground into a powder, made into sunflower butter or used to make seed yoghurt. When mixed with cereal flours, it makes a nutritious bread. Cultivars with up to 50% oil have been developed in Russia. The oil contains between 44 – 72% linoleic acid. The germinated seed is said to be best for seed yoghurt, it is blended with water and left to ferment. The sprouted seed can be eaten raw. A nutritional analysis of the seed is available. Young flower buds – steamed and served like globe artichokes. A mild and pleasant enough flavour, but rather fiddly. Average yields range from 900 – 1,575 kg/ha of seed, however yields of over 3,375 kg/ha have been reported. A high quality edible semi-drying oil is obtained from the seed. It is low in cholesterol, and is said to be equal in quality to olive oil. Used in salads, margarines, or in cooking. The roasted seed is a coffee and drinking chocolate substitute. Another report says the roasted hulls are used. The leaf petioles are boiled and mixed in with other foodstuffs. (Good break-down of minerals and vitamins on the PFAP website) (4)
Medicinal Uses: A tea made from the leaves is astringent, diuretic and expectorant, it is used in the treatment of high fevers. The crushed leaves are used as a poultice on sores, swellings, snakebites and spider bites. The leaves are harvested as the plant comes into flower and are dried for later use. A tea made from the flowers is used in the treatment of malaria and lung ailments. The flowering head and seeds are febrifuge, nutritive and stomachic. The seed is also considered to be diuretic and expectorant. It has been used with success in the treatment of many pulmonary complaints. A decoction of the roots has been used as a warm wash on rheumatic aches and pains (5)
Foot Notes: (2, 3, 4, 5)
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38(b)
Common Name: Sunflower  (Helianthus dronicoides)
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=HEDO Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinios, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey 
Appearance and Habitat: Dry woods, thickets and clearings in Central N. America – Ohio to Missouri and Arkansas.  A perennial  growing to 1.8 m (6ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in). It is hardy to zone 4. It is in flower from Sep to October, and the seeds ripen from Oct to November.
Warnings: None
Edible Uses: Tubers – cooked. A similar taste to Jerusalem artichokes but less productive because the tubers are very thin. 
Medicinal Uses: None
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#38 (c)
Common Name: Giant Sunflower (Helianthus giganteus)
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=HEGI all states east of the Mississippi River (excluding New Hampshire, Florida) plus Iowa, Minnesota
Appearance and Habitat: As the name suggests, giant sunflower is a large, showy plant.A tall, rough, reddish stem bearing several to many light yellow flower heads. The branched, purplish stem grows to 10 ft. tall and bears terminal, yellow flowers. Despite this plants names, its flower heads are comparatively small; the common and species names actually refer to the plants overall height.  (1) Damp or rich thickets, swampy woods and clearings in N. America- Maine and Ontario to Saskatchewan, Florida, Louisiana and Colorado.  A perennial  growing to 3.6 m (11ft 10in) at a fast rate.  It is hardy to zone 4. It is in flower from Sep to October, and the seeds ripen from Oct to November. (2)
Warnings: None (3)
Edible Uses: Tubers – cooked. A similar taste to Jerusalem artichokes but less productive. The var. ‘subtuberosus’ is used. Seed – raw or cooked. It can be dried and ground into a powder, then mixed with cornmeal and used for making bread. The seed is very small and fiddly to use. (4)
Medicinal Uses: None (5)
Foot Notes : (2, 3, 4, 5)
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#38(d)
Common Name: Showy Sunflower (Helianthus laetiflorus)
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=HELA all states east of New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, (excluding Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida) plus Montana, Oregon.
Appearance and Habitat: Open woods and thickets, often on drier soils in Central N. America – Pennsylvania to Minnesota.  A perennial  growing to 2 m (6ft 7in).  It is hardy to zone 4. It is in flower from Aug to October, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October.
Warnings: None
Edible Uses: Tubers – raw or cooked. Used like Jerusalem artichokes, to which they are not much inferior in taste though yields are lower.
Medicinal Uses: None
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Helianthus+laetiflorus
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#38 (e)
Common Name: Maximillian Sunflower (Helainthus maximiliani)
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=HEMA2 all states except Alaska, Oregon, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Vermont, New Hampshire
Appearance and Habitat: The several tall, leafy, unbranched stems of michaelmas-daisy or maximilian sunflower grow to a height of 3-10 ft. Leaves are long and narrow, up to 10 inches near the bottom and as short as 2 inches near the top. They are alternate, coarse and hairy, slightly wavy on the edges, often folded lengthwise, slightly toothed  and very pointed. Numerous yellow flower heads grow on their own stalks terminally and from leaf axils. The flower headsis up to 5 inches across, with 15-19 ray flowers, deeply veined and slightly toothed  on the tip. The center is 1 inch or more across, green to dark brown. These perennial plants can form large colonies. (1)  Rich prairies usually on dry soils.  Low moist areas, roadsides and prairies in Texas often fomring large colonies.  Central N. America – Minnesota and Manitoba to Saskatchewan, Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas.  A perennial growing to 2.4 m (7ft 10in).  It is hardy to zone 4. It is in flower from Sep to October, and the seeds ripen from Oct to November. (2)
Warnings: None (3)
Edible Uses: Tubers – raw or cooked. Similar in flavour to Jerusalem artichokes, but lower yielding. Seed – raw or cooked. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. (4)
Medicinal Uses: None (5)
Foot Notes: (2, 3, 4, 5)
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#38(f)
Common Name: Priarie Sunflower (Helianthus petiolaris)
Range:http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=HEPE all states except Hawaii, Alaska, Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida.
Appearance and Habitat: A showy, 3-5 ft. annual  sunflower with many-branched, erect stems. Foliage is dark green. Flower heads grow terminally on 3-4 in. peduncles.  Ray flowers are yellow; disk flowers are red-purple. (1)  Sandy soils, Dry prairies in Central and western N. America-Manitoba and Minnesota south to Arizona.  An annual growing to 3 m (9ft 10in).  It is hardy to zone 4. It is in flower from Jul to September. (2)
Warnings: None. (3)
Edible Uses: Seed – raw or cooked. An oily texture. The seed can be ground into a powder and kneaded into seed butter. (4)
Medicinal Uses: The powdered leaves, either on their own or in an ointment, have been used as a dressing for sores and swellings. (5)
Foot Notes: (2, 3, 4, 5 )
#38(g)
Common Name: Paleleaf Woodland Sunflower (Helianthus strumosus).
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=HEST all states east of the Mississippi and directly west of the Mississippi, plus Texas, Oklahoma Nebraska, and North Dakota.
Appearance and Habitat: The stout, erect stem of pale-leaf woodland sunflower is branched toward the top and grows to 7 ft. tall. Narrow,oval leaves are up to 8 in. long and whitish underneath. Yellow flower heads on branches from a smooth or slightly rough main stem. Flower heads occur in loose clusters at branch tips. Each of the perennial’s yellow flower heads is 2-4 in. across.  (1)  Dry woods and banks in N. America-Quebec to N. Dakota, south to Arkansas and Oklahoma.  A perennial  growing to 2 m (6ft 7in).  It is hardy to zone 4. It is in flower from Sep to October. (2)
Warnings: None (3)
Edible Uses: Root. No more details but it is probably used raw or cooked like the Jerusalem artichoke. (4)
Medicinal Uses: A decoction of the roots has been used to get rid of worms in both adults and children. An infusion of the roots has been used in the treatment of lung problems. (5)
Foot Notes: (2, 3, 4, 5 )
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Helianthus+strumosus
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#38(h)
Common Name: Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=HETU  all states with the exception of Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico (These are states where they grow naturally, elsewhere they can be planted in gardens.)
Appearance and Habitat: A large, robust yellow sunflower with broad, thick leaves and rough, hairy stems. Stout, rough, branching stems bear large golden-yellow flower heads. Flower heads with yellow rays and disks are numerous in the upper portions of the 6-10 ft. perennial. This large, coarse sunflower was cultivated by Native Americans of the Great Plains and has spread eastward. The edible tuber is highly nutritious and, unlike potatoes, contains no starch, but rather carbohydrate in a form that is metabolized into natural sugar. In 1805 Lewis and Clark dined on the tubers, prepared by a native woman, in what is now North Dakota. Today they are sold in produce markets stores and, when boiled or roasted like potatoes, are delicious. Raw, they have a sweet, nut-like taste.  (1)  Rich and damp thickets in Eastern N. America – Novascotia to Minnesota and Kansas.  A perennial growing to 2.4 m (7ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in) at a fast rate.  It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in October, and the seeds ripen in November. (2)
Warnings: None (3)
Edible Uses: Tubers – raw or cooked. The tuber develops a pleasant sweetness during the winter, especially if subjected to frosts, and is then reasonably acceptable raw. Otherwise it is generally best cooked, and can be used in all the ways that potatoes are used. The tubers are rich in inulin, a starch which the body cannot digest, so Jerusalem artichokes provide a bulk of food without many calories. Some people are not very tolerant of inulin, it tends to ferment in their guts and can cause quite severe wind. The tubers are fairly large, up to 10cm long and 6cm in diameter. The tubers bruise easily and lose moisture rapidly so are best left in the ground and harvested as required. The inulin from the roots can be converted into fructose, a sweet substance that is safe for diabetics to use. The roasted tubers are a coffee substitute. (4)
Medicinal Uses: Reported to be aperient, aphrodisiac, cholagogue, diuretic, spermatogenetic, stomachic, and tonic, Jerusalem artichoke is a folk remedy for diabetes and rheumatism. (5)
Foot Notes: ( 2, 3, 4, 5 )
Reproduced, in part, (as well as previous postings under this title) in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.
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