Mission Statement

My goal with mande plants is to teach about medicinal and edible plants, show how to grow these plants, where to find these plants, and how to use these plants. There are many useful botanicals in our world. I will growing seasonal crops and perennial edibles using organic methods as best as possible. One of my long term goals is to grow a temperate food forest garden. As I grow new plants and harvest them I will be sharing photos and details on this blog. All photos on this blog are taken by me. If you like this blog and you would like to help me further my research you can use the paypal donate button on the right. All donations will be used to buy tools, plants, seeds, and pay for expenses needed to develop gardens.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Sunflowers

While Sunflowers can now be found all over the world they are originally from North and South America.  Helianthus annuus, the common sunflower is the most popular and well known of the sunflowers.  Artists Anthony van Dyck and Vincent van Gogh used features sunflowers in their paintings.  While these flowers are grown as a specimen of beauty they were originally cultivated for their food and value.

The most famous food use of sunflowers are their seeds.  They have a caloric profile of about 74% fat, 12% protein, and 14% carbohydrates.  They are also high in vitamin E, selenium, magnesium, and manganese.  Sunflower seeds also contain antioxidants chlorogenic acid, quinic acid, and caffeic acid, which help to lower blood pressure, blood sugar levels and are anti inflammatory. The flower petals and stems can also be eaten raw or cooked.
Wild Helianthus annuus

Maximilian Sunflower
Another popular sunflower, Helianthus tuberosus, known as Jerusalem artichoke (which is a misnomer) or Sunchoke has edible tubers.  These tubers are great raw, on their own or added to a salad.  They are crunchy and somewhat sweet. When cooked they have a texture and flavor somewhat like potatoes.   Because of it's high inulin content is can cause flatulence.  Inulin is not broken down by the human body, but by bacteria in our intestines.  It seems some Native Americans appreciated this as a regular food, while others only ate it in times of famine.

Sunchokes can grow to be very tall, up to ten feet tall.  Unlike their annual cousin these plants can live for many years.  They can be propagated by seed or by dividing the roots.

And lastly, Helianthus maximiliani, or Maximilian Sunflower.  This sunflower is also a perennial.  While the tubers can also be eaten they are produced at a much lower yield than the sunchoke.  Instead, you can eat the young shoots, raw or cooked in stir fry or soup.

Because of the prickly tough nature of the Maximilian sunflower they make a great barrier.  These too can grow tall once established.  It makes a great habitat and food source for seed eating birds.


  1. I like Sunflower but never know its type. Thanks for sharing information regarding sunflower and its types. Keep sharing something about more flowers.

    Extra Insights

  2. While the tubers can also be eaten they are produced at a much lower yield than the sunchoke. Vertical garden planters

  3. I never realized you can eat young shoots, I will try them in the spring. I enjoy daylily sprouts in stir fry.