Sunflower as a Crop

Sunflower, Helianthus annuus Linnaeus, is an annual row crop that is grown primarily for its edible oil. Other uses and byproducts include animal feed, human snacks, and various chemical and industrial products.

The crop, and indeed the entire genus Helianthus, was unknown in the Old World until after Columbus. But it was grown by North American Indians for millennia throughout much of the United States and portions of Canada and Mexico. Sunflower subsequently spread to Europe for garden and oil use, and finally to Russia in the eighteenth century, where its use as an oil crop developed seriously. Reintroduction as a commercial crop in North America probably occurred in the latter nineteenth century. Commercial interest in North America and other parts of the world has increased throughout the current century.

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