Happy Saturday Everyone! Today, I decided to bring a little sunshine into your December with my favourite flower!
Out of the 70 species of sunflower, all but 3 are native to North America, the others being from South America. This plant has had many uses over the decades and centuries, especially to the various Native American tribes that called North America home. The seeds were ground or pounded into flour and then used for mush, bread or cakes, as well as being cracked and eaten for a snack. Some mixed the meal of the sunflower plant with other vegetables, such as corn, beans and squash as well.
Though originating in North America, much like a variety of plants, sunflower seeds were taken across the ocean to both Europe, by those who explored and discovered the New World, and to Russia by Peter the Great. By the early 1800s, over 2 million acres of sunflowers were being grown in Russia, during which time 2 specific types had been identified: oil-type and those for direct human consumption. Though they were used mostly as an ornamental plant, there is a record of a patent in England in 1716 for squeezing the oil out of sunflower.
Interesting fact: The sunflowers we see today are not in fact what the original plants looked like. Over the generations of growing them, the plants were encouraged to produce bigger seeds and many more of them as well, so the original characteristics have been interfered with for thousands of years.