Asteraceae (Aster Family)
A tall, coarsly-leafed plant with a distinctive large, yellow bloom, growing to a height of 60 - 390 cm.
Distinguishing Features - Leaves: 7.5 - 30 cm long; the lowest ovate, usually heart-shaped, edged with irregular teeth; the upper, smaller and narrower. Flowers: large heads 7.5 - 15 cm wide; ovate bracts enclose heads edged with bristles and narrow abruptly to a slender tip; stiff scales among disk flowers. Fruit: dry casing enclosing a white seed; flattish but plump; drop off easily.
Widespread throughout Canada and the United States; also Eurasia; in dry open plains and foothills; especially common beside roads and field edges.
The Sunflower has been grown in America for ages. The yellow dye obtained from the flowers, and a black or dull blue dye from the seeds, were important in Native American basketry and weaving. Native Americans also made flour from the seeds. In present times, seeds from cultivated plants are used for cooking oil, as well as feed for livestock.
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