Sunflower: Girasole

1 Oct

Driving through Tuscany in the summer, a common site is a field of sunflowers. If I didn’t know better, I’d almost think they were shy, as it seems they are always facing away when I want to take a picture. An understanding of the name, however,  helps one understand – gira sole literally means turns toward the sun, and that is exactly what they do.





But what happens to them in the fall? As you might imagine, they look quite different.



Once they reach this state, sunflowers are cultivated for their edible seeds, which are an important source of oil for cooking. Timing is important as the seeds need to be harvested before they begin to dry and loosen, and before the squirrels and birds decide to do the harvesting for you.



According to Fun Flower Facts, by Connor Lowry, here are some ways the sunflower can be used besides being a wonderful ornamental flower:

  1. As you know, sunflower seeds are edible. They can be eaten raw, cooked, roasted or dried. They are a popular, nutritious snack containing a good source of protein, vitamins A, B, and E, calcium, nitrogen and iron.
  2. Traditionally, North American Indians ground the seeds to make flour for cakes and breads.
  3. The petals are also edible; they can be cooked and eaten like artichokes.
  4. Humans aren’t the only ones that find sunflowers tasty. The seed heads are also a source of food for birds and animals. Sunflower seeds are a major ingredient in commercial birdseed.
  5. Sunflower leaves are used as feed for livestock.
  6. Sunflower oil is a popular vegetable oil known for its light colour, mild flavour, low levels of saturated fats and ability to withstand high cooking temperatures.
  7. The oil can also be added to soap, lubricants and candles.
  8. Sunflower oil can help relieve skin conditions, hemorrhoids and ulcers.
  9. Sunflower roots can remove radiation from soils and water. They were used to clean up the Chernobyl disaster.
  10. The root of the plant is also used in traditional herbal medicine to treat snake bites and spider bites. The leaves can be made into tea to relieve fevers, lung ailments and diarrhea.
  11. The flowers can be used to make an all natural dye.
  12. The stalks are used to make paper and clothes.

So, now you know what happens to those lovely flowers that always seem to make us smile.



3 Responses to “Sunflower: Girasole”

  1. jean October 1, 2015 at 10:05 AM #

    Strange deja vu moment. I thought I had sent you a recipe for peeling off the petals and seeds of a mature sunflower and cooking the sunflower heart like an artichoke heart (they are related) and asking you if they prepared it like that in Cortona.
    Even stranger I thought you replied that I should ask Paola.
    Wow too much packing. I must be cracking up.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. the italian language specialist October 19, 2015 at 4:13 AM #

    Reblogged this on Italian in Italy's Blog and commented:
    In these foggy and rainy days, nice to see some sunny pics !


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