Origin: The Americas (mostly North & Central America)
Scientific Name: Helianthus annuus
Folk Names: Corona Solis, Marigold of Peru, Sola Indianus
Planet: The Sun
Associated Celebrations: SumSol
Deities: Apollo, Demeter, Helios
Parts Used: Flowers, seeds
Magical Properties: Fertility, prosperity, happiness, wisdom, protection
Part Used: Seeds
Extraction Method: Cold-pressed
Flash Point: >300°C
Perfume Use: Base oil
Shelf Life: 12 months
Scent Description: Faintly nutty
Active Constituents: High in vitamin E
Skin Types: Dry/combination
Absorption Rate: Medium/fast
Properties: Emollient, anti-inflammatory; excellent all-purpose oil for skin soothing and healing.
There are about 70 different species of sunflower. Most of these are annuals, but a few are perennial.
Type: Tall flower
Plant size: Up to 2m
Stem: Rough, hairy stem
Leaves: Large leaves in a rosette at the base, with some smaller leaves up the stem
Flowers: Large flower heads with bright yellow ray florets on the outside, and yellow or maroon disc florets in the centre, some grow 30cm or larger in diameter
Etymology: Called “sunflowers” due to their large sunny-yellow flowers, which move to face the sun. The genus name Helianthus comes from the Greek sun god Helios.
In the Garden
Light: Full sun
Companion Planting: Apricot, cucumber, pumpkin, squash, and sweetcorn. Sunflowers can also be grown to provide shade for sun-stressed plants, and tall varieties can be used as trellises for climbing peas/beans.
- Mix a small amount of fertiliser into the soil prior to planting.
- Harvest sunflower heads when some of the seeds at the edges appear ripe - they should fall away when rubbed.