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  • Writer's pictureLilla Schottner

The Multiple Benefits of Sunflowers

If you like to improve the look of your garden, sunflowers are a great way to do so! They add color and vibrancy to an area, and their multiple benefits fascinate me.

Let me list a few of them here.

-Wildlife loves them; they attract and feed pollinators and birds.

Blackbirds, sparrows and doves, and chipmunks.

-Research shows that the "sunflower family (Asteraceae) both reduces infection of a common bee parasite by 81–94% and markedly increases the production of queen bumble bees. One of the big breakthroughs in helping pollinators, and especially bees, is the discovery that certain species of flowers can help pollinators resist disease infections and that sunflowers are particularly effective at combatting a widespread pathogen that lives in a bee's gut called Crithidia bombi."

-Their deep roots help to break up compacted urban soils, help with the aeration of the soil, and their leaves add organic matter to the soil as they decompose. This helps to create a healthy environment for other plants to grow in.

-They are drought tolerant; this is an essential fact in the hot Portuguese climate.

-They remediate urban soil contaminants - absorb toxic heavy metals – lead, arsenic, zinc, and uranium from the soil.

-They are excellent compost crops, adding carbon to the soil

-The sunflower seeds are also rich in Vitamin E, Manganese, Pantothenic acid, Potassium, and Copper, while they also contain significant amounts of Vitamin B6, Folate, Niacin, Zinc, Iron, and Magnesium.

How about planting more of these beauties?

Finally, sunflower plant parts can also be used in resins, plastics, soap, cosmetics, and detergents. The hulls can be used in ethyl alcohol and furfural production, while the stems are used as a source of fiber for fabrics and paper. Finally, the roasted seeds of sunflowers are used as a coffee substitute.

Sunflowers in my garden.

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