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In Greek "helios" means sun and "anthos" means flower
English: Girasol, Gloden, Larea-bell, Turn-sol, Water-wood
mother tinct Q
Plantae; Spermatophyta, Angiospermae - Flowering Plants; Dicotyledonae; Asteridae / Synandrae; Asterales; Compositae / Asteraceae - Composites / Daisy or Sunflower Family
Introduced and proved by Cessoles, B.J. of Hom. 2, 169 (trans. from Bib. Hom. de Geneva); Allen: Encyclop. Mat. Med. Vol. IV, 545; Clarke: A Dictionary of Practical Mat. Med. Vol. I, 874.
Description of the substance
Variable, erect, often unbranched, fast-growing, annual herb; stems 0.7–3.5 m tall, hirsute; leaves alternate, ovate, long-petroled, lamina with 3 main veins, 10–30 cm long, 5–20 cm wide, apex acute or acuminate, lower leaves opposite and cordate; flowering head terminal on main stem, 10–40 cm in diameter, rotating to face the sun, sometimes drooping, heads on lateral branches smaller; outer ray flowers neuter with yellow ligulate corolla, disc florets numerous, spirally arranged, perfect; ovary inferior with single basal ovule; achenes obovoid, compressed, slightly 4-angled, variable in size and coleo, seldom less than 1 cm long, usually from 1–1.5 cm long, full-colored or striped. Taproot strong, penetrating to depth of 3 m and with large lateral spread of surface roots. Fl. late summer and fall; fr. fall.
Reported from the North American (and secondarily, the Eurosiberian) Center of Diversity, sunflower, or cvs thereof, is reported to tolerate disease, drought, frost, fungi, high pH, laterite, limestone, low pH, mycobacteria, photoperiod, poor soil, rust, salt, sand, smog, virus, weeds, and waterlogging (Duke, 1978). Botanically, the sunflower is treated as the following subspecies: ssp. lenticularis in the wild sunflower; ssp. annuus is the weedy wild sunflower; and ssp. macrocarpus is cultivated for edible seeds. Cultivars are divided into several types: Giant types: 1.8–4.2 m tall, late maturing, heads 30–50 cm diam., seeds large, white or gray, or with black stripes; oil content rather low; ex. 'Mammoth Russian'. Semi-dwarf types: 1.3–1.8 m tall, early maturing, heads 17–23 cm diam., seeds smaller, black, gray or striped; oil content higher; ex. 'Pole Star' and 'Jupiter'. Dwarf types: 0.6–1.4 m tall, early maturing, heads 14–16 cm diam., seeds small, oil content highest; ex., 'Advance' and 'Sunset'. Gene centers are in the Americas, with genuine resources for resistance in southern United States and Mexico. Two types of male sterility are known. Although sunchoke is the name given to the hybrid with the jerusalem artichoke, much of what is sold as sunchoke in the United States is, in fact, straight Jerusalem artichoke. (2n = 34)
Native to western North America, sunflower is the only important crop to have evolved within the present confines of the United States. Early introduced to Europe and Russia, the species has now spread to countries both tropical and temperate.
Sunflowers are grown from the Equator to 55° N Lat. In the tropics, they grow better at medium to high elevations, but tolerate the drier lowlands. They thrive wherever good crops of corn are grown, Young plants withstand mild freezing. Plants are intolerant of shade. As sunflowers have highly efficient root systems, they can be grown in areas which are too dry for many crops. Plants are quite drought-resistant except during flowering. In South Africa, reasonable yields have been obtained with 25 cm of rainfall by dwarf cultivars. Giant types require more moist conditions. Crop may be grown on a wide range of soils, including poor soils, provided they are deep and well-drained. Plants are intolerant of acid or waterlogged soils. Ranging from Boreal Moist through Tropical Thorn to Wet Forest Life Zones, sunflower tolerates annual precipitation of 2–40 dm (mean of 195 cases 11.4), annual temperature of 6–28°C (mean of 194 cases = 19.6), and pH of 4.5–8.7 (mean of 121 cases = 6.6) (Duke 1978, 1979)
Seed, harvested at 12% moisture content and stored, will retain viability for several years. Sunflower production may be adapted to mechanized or unmechanized societies. Propagation is always by seed. Plant with corn or beet planter, 2.5–7.5 cm deep, spaced 0.2 m apart in 0.6–0.9 m rows; seed rate of 5.6 kg/ha, giving about 62,500 plants per ha. May be planted earlier in spring than corn since plants are more tolerant to frost. Early weed control is an important factor in yield, so cultivate lightly in early stages of crop. Sunflowers respond well to a balanced fertilizer based on soil test, usually a 1-2-3 NPK ratio is best, with a need for boron and other trace elements on lighter soils. Foliar fertilizers of liquid NPK on plants increases yield 62% with one application and 97% with two applications. Sunflowers should not occur in rotation more than once in every 4 years, and should not be in rotations with potatoes.
Crop matures about 4 months from sowing; some Russian cvs mature in 70 days. Harvest when involucral bracts turn yellow and seeds become loose, but before shedding begins. Harvesting methods are similar to those of corn: heads are gathered, dried, and threshed. For fodder or silage, crop is harvested at the flowering stage. Seed oil is either cold- or hot-pressed. Cold-pressed oil is usually pale yellow, with a mild taste and pleasant odor, much esteemed as a salad and cooking oil, especially for butter substitutes. Hot-pressed oil is reddish yellow and is used for technical purposes and as a burning oil. With modern methods, hot-pressed oil may be refined for edible purposes.
Yields and Economics
Average yields range from 900–1,575 kg/ha of seed; however, yields of over 3,375 kg/ha have been reported. Heads may contain 1,000–4,000 florets, with the potential of as many seeds. Yields from dried seeds are 40% oil, 35% protein meal, and 20–25% hulls. In 1979, the world low production yield was 308 kg/ha in Algeria, the international production yield was 1,266 kg/ha, and the world high production yield was 2,420 kg/ha in Austria (FAO, 1980a). With DM yields ranging from 4 to 9 MT/ha (in three months) and seed yields ranging from 300 to more than 3,000 kg/ha, a straw factor of 3 seems appropriate. According to USDA Secretary's Annual Report (1980), with an average yield of ca 1,500 kg/ha (North Dakota), a hectare would yield nearly 225 gallons of oil, 75% of which could be extracted on the farm. Twelve to 15 gallons are required to raise a hectare; hence the fuel from one hectare could produce 8–11 hectares of crop. In the US, the highest average commercial yields occurred in North Dakota and Minnesota, which averaged 1,170 and 1,267 kg/ha respectively, compared with 1,019 kg/ha for Texas. Pryde and Doty (1981) suggest average oil yields of 589 kg/ha from 1,469 kg/ha seed. Telek and Martin (1981) suggest oil yields of 450 kg/ha. Experimentally, at Davis, California, April plantings yielded 2,592–3,181 kg/ha (45.5–48.5% oil), May, 2,676–3,161 kg/ha (45.5–48.4% oil), June plantings 956–2,643 kg/ha (40.8–43.7% oil), and July plantings 702–2,447 kg/ha (40.2–42.6% oil). The lowest oil yield was 282 kg/ha, the highest, 1,543 kg/ha (Beard & Ingebretsen, 1980). In India, rainfed sunflower gave seed yields of 1,120 kg/ha in pure stands, 1,050–1,070 intercropped with cowpea, and 1,010–1,070 kg/ha intercropped with peanuts (Chandrasekar and Morachan, 1979). Volunteer sunflowers themselves may constitute a weed problem, as few as 3 per square meter reducing wheat yields by 16%, 23 per square meter reducing yields by 35% (Agrichemical Age, April 1982). World production of sunflowerseed in 1970 was 9.6 million MT, grown on 8.2 million ha, yielding 1,170 kg/ha. Largest producers are USSR, Rumania, Bulgaria, Argentina, Yugoslavia, Turkey, and South Africa. In the tropics, Tanzania produces 10,000–20,000 MT per year. Cultivars grown in Minnesota contain higher percentages of the desirable linoleic acid than same cultivars in other states. Major importers of sunflowerseed were Italy, West Germany, and Japan. Oil prices in United States in 1970 were $331/ton. Production costs in fully mechanized production in United States is about $100/ha with fertilizer, $87 without; hand labor figured at $2/hr. By 1982, sunflower oil was trading at $.59/kg compared to $.50–.54 for coconut, $.53 for cornoil, $.48 for cottonseed, $.59 for linseed, and $.42 for soybean (CMR, June 7, 1982).
According to the phytomass files (Duke, 1981b), annual productivity ranges from 3 to 15 MT/ha. North Dakota researchers are testing a small auger press, operated on the farm, that can extract ca 75–80% of the oil in sunflower seeds, or ca 55 gallons (barely more than one 42-gallon barrel) from an average yield of 1,400 lbs/acre. According to S&E Newsmakers #4 (September 1981), It takes one acre's production to farm and produce 8 to 11 more acres, our usual 10:1 ratio. In North Carolina, Harwood (1981) concluded that sunflower seed was most promising for on-farm production of vegetable oil fuels, soybeans, peanuts, and cottonseed considered not well suited. Sunflowers yield ca 2.5 MT/ha, with ca 40% oil, indicating a potential of 250 gallons oil/ha if seed were processed in mill. On farm processing would produce closer to 200 gallons (ca 5 barrels) at a cost of more than $2.00 per gallon. Production costs are less than one barrel per hectare. Harwood puts the energetic returns at greater than 5:1 compared to 3:1 for peanuts, 2:1 for soybeans, and 1:1 for cottonseed. Pratt et al. (VODF Seminar II, 1981) report an endurance test involving engines fueled with various mixtures of sunflower oil (25–50%) with diesel oil (75–50%). Two motors needed repair, ten were operating with no apparent difficulties, of which two were said to be doing even better. Ohio yields on poor soils (Wood County) were only 260 lb/acre (yielding 9.3 gallons of screw press oil); and on good soils (Champaign County), 1.680 lb/acre (yielding 69.1 gallons oil) cropped after wheat in a double cropping system (Ohio Report July–August 1981, p. 63). Sunflower oil should be dewaxed before being used as a diesel substitute. In Australia, sunflower first commercially planted in 1967, has great potential for expansion as a rainfed energy crop. Little water is required for processing oilseeds (unlike ethanol), and the seed coat can provide sufficient energy for heat and steam for oil extraction. Australians figure a net energy gain of 2 liters for every 3 liters produced (Quick, 1981). A hundred kg of dry seed will yield about 40 kg oil, 15–25 kg hulls, and 40 kg proteinaceous meal. Hulls have been pressed into fuel "logs". Threshed heads are ground and fed to cattle elsewhere. The heads are rich in pectin (Robinson, Ag. Ext. Service, Univ. of Minn.) Sheaffer et al. (1976, Univ. Md. Ag. Exp. Station) report studies showing that sunflower yields 33.1 MT silage/ha compared to corn at 19.26 MT/ha. According to the phytomass files (Duke 1981b), annual DM productivity ranges from 3 to 15 MT/ha. DM yields averaged closer to 5 MT spaced at 43,000 plants/ha, 8 MT spaced at 172,000 plants/ha near Clarksville, Maryland. In these experiments, the sunflower followed barley. Jake Page's discussion in Science 81 (July–August 1981, 92–93) is picturesque: "But I happen to like sunflowers... They can be grown almost anywhere in the country and you can grow between 500 and 3,000 pounds of sunflower seeds on an American acre in three months if you're clever. The soil can be lousy, the rainfall terrible...if the average American corn farmer put 10 percent of his land into sunflowers, he could become self-sufficient in fuel. It seems that using vegetable oil may be more efficient, in a net energy sense, than growing plants for conversion into alcohol (another nice alternative fuel) because the processing for alcohol is more elaborate, expensive, and energy intensive."
In USDA's Agriculture Research (Dec. 1978), a new pest of sunflower is reported. A scarab beetle (Phyllophaga lancolata) devastated more than 400 ha near Lehman, Texas. Eucosma womonana, is also a newly reported sunflower pest in Texas (Ag. Res., Aug. 1980). Seed set low when selfed, as most cultivars seed set low when selfed, as most cultivars are self-incompatible. Florets on one head open over 5–6 days and may wait 2 weeks for fertilization. Cross-pollination may be facilitated by 2–3 hives of honeybees per ha, the hives spaced in rows 300–400 m apart, as they need to be distributed to give coverage to all blooms. Gophers dig up seeds; birds eat tremendous amounts of seeds from the maturing crop.
Environ Exp Bot. 1989 Jan;29(1):25-36. Related Articles, Links
Phototropism involves a lateral gradient of growth inhibitors, not of auxin. A review.
Bruinsma J, Hasegawa K.
Dept. of Plant Physiology, Agricultural University, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
During phototropic curvature, indolyl-3-acetic acid (IAA) remains evenly distributed in the hypocotyl of sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) and in the oat (Avena sativa L.) coleoptile. At the irradiated side, growth inhibiting substances accumulate. In sunflower, basipetal movement of a growth factor is not involved, since the top of the seedling can be covered or removed without affecting the photo-tropic response; this response, moreover, is independent of the rate of elongation growth. The chemical nature of the growth-inhibiting substances is only partly known. In the hypocotyl they occur in the neutral fraction: in sunflower cis-xanthoxin is one of them, in radish (Raphanus sativus L.) cis- and trans-raphanusanins, and possibly raphanusamide, are involved. The inhibitor(s) in the oat coleoptile are acidic. During curvature, their amount remains rather constant but the distribution changes with an accumulation at the irradiated side. It is concluded that phototropic curvature is brought about by an accumulation, at the irradiated side, of growth-inhibiting substances that unilaterally reduce cell elongation even though the IAA distribution is uniform.