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Sunflower

leaves, flowers and sun

SUNFLOWER, the common name of the New World plants belonging to the large composite genus Helianthus, so called because their golden-rayed heads are likened to the sun. The robust annual sunflowers (Helianthus annuls-0, native to the prairies of the American West, where they grow over large tracts, some times so tall that they hide a horseman riding among them, are often planted as a coarse but brilliant ornamental plant good for concealing fences and the like. The leaves are numerous, rough, very large, and somewhat heart-shaped; the flowers sometimes measure a foot in diam eter, generally nodding, and inclining to the sun. The disc is very broad and brownish, and its tubular florets develop four-sided very oily achenes, which are a tid-bit for the Tartars, have been used somewhat for food by the American aborigines, and are the main resource of many western seed-eating animals and birds. In Russia, and in some modern gardens, sun flowers are grown solely for these fruits, which form a valuable food for poultry, and yield an oil, useful for either illuminating or soap-mak ing. They are said also to be a remedy for

heaves in horses. The smooth western H. ot:gyalis has narrow graceful leaves, and brown, disked flowers, and is quite apt to bloom from top to bottom, a distance of some 10 feet. H. decapetalus vat', nutitiflartts is one of the best for cultivation, being not so coarse as other species, and having long-stemmed, clear-yellow flowers, sometimes double, and about three inches across. H. monis is also interesting, for its soft, white velvety foliage, and stands only about five feet high. H. subtuberosus, the Indian potato, has thick lanceolate leaves, and fleshy roots, which are thick and edible. It is found on the Northwestern prairies. H. tuberosus, with a wider range, has ovate leaves, and fleshy thickened rootstalks bearing the tubers called Jerusalem artichokes. It often grows along roadsides in the East, having been cultivated, doubtless, by the aborigines, and is now largely grown as a fodder for livestock, especially valuable in dry seasons, and as a vegetable for fall.