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Family Asteraceae
Mirasol
Helianthus annuus
SUN FLOWER
Zhang ju

Scientific names  Common names 
Helianthus annuus Girasol (Span.) 
Xiang ri kui (Chin.)  Mirasol (Tag., Span.) 
  Sun flower (Engl.) 
  Tournesol (France) 
  Sonnemblumen (Germ.) 
  Zhang ju (Chin.) 

Other vernacular names
ARABIC: Abbad esh shams.
DANISH: Solsikke.
DUTCH: Zonnebloem.
ESTONIAN: Harilik päevalill, Päevalill.
FINNISH: Auringonkukka, Auringon ruusu, Isoauringonkukka.
FRENCH: Soleil, Tournesol.
GERMAN: Echte Sonnenblume, Sonnenblume.
HUNGARIAN: Napraforgó.
ITALIAN: Corona del sole, Girasole.
JAPANESE: Himawari, Koujitsuki.
KOREAN : Hae ba ra gi.
NORWEGIAN: Solsikke, Solvendel.
POLISH: Slonecznik roczny, Slonecznik zwyczajny.
RUSSIAN: Podsolnechnik. Podsolnechnik maslichnyi.
SLOVENIAN: Navadna sonènica.
SWEDISH: Solros.
TURKISH: Gune bakan.


Gen info
Name derives from the Greek work helios, meaning sun; and anthos, for flower.

Botany
Mirasol is a coarse, stout and erect annual plant, up to 1 to 3 meters high. Stems are straight, rarely branched. Leaves are opposite at the lower part of the stem, alternate above, ovate, rough, hairy, with toothed margins, long-stalked, 10 to 25 centimeters long. Lower leaves are somewhat heart-shaped. Flower heads are solitary or in clusters, up to 40 centimeters across. Disk flowers are yellow to brown, with tubular, 5-limbed corolla. Ray flowers are yellow and spreading. Involucral bracts are ovate or oblong.

Distribution
- Introduced to the Philippines during the Spanish times.
- Cultivated for ornamental purposes and for its seeds.
- Profuse seasonal growth in certain places, like the Mountain Province.
- Planted in all warm countries.

Constituents
- Plant contains an oleic acid and triacyl glycerol, alkaloids, cyanogenic glycosides, saponins, cardiac glycosides, tannins, fixed oils, phenolics.
- Oil contains 44-72% linoleic acid.
- Leaves contain a glucoside, C11H19N204.
- Flowers contain quercimeritrin, C21H20O12, a monoglucoside of quercetin; anthocyanin; and abundant amount of cholin and betain.
- Seeds contain 45 to 48 percent fixed oil.

Properties
- Seed considered diuretic and expectorant.
- Seeds and flowers considered febrifuge and stomachic.
- Also considered as aphrodisiac, emollient, anti-malarial and anti-cancer.

Parts used
Seeds, flowers, roots, bark.

Uses
Edible
- Flower, seed, stem.
- Seeds, raw or cooked; difficult to use because of small size.
- Roasted seed used as coffee or chocolate substitute.
- The oil is low in cholesterol, considered olive-oil quality and used for salads and cooking.
- Disk of the flower-head can be eaten like an artichoke.

Folkloric
- Boiled flower heads once used by Amerindians for pulmonary affections.
- Tea from flowers, dried or fresh leaves is used for facilitating expectoration, relieving coughs, colds.
- For whooping cough, an infusion of the brown seeds, drink the tea 4 to 5 times daily.
- For asthma, an infusion of the leaves.
- Decoction of seeds used as diuretic and expectorant; used for bronchial and pulmonary affections, coughs and colds.
- An infusion of oven-browned seeds used for whooping cough.
- For diabetes, tea from decocted roots (10 gms to half a glass of water).
- When flowers and leaves are mixed with oil, let stand for 5-10 days before using.
- Seeds are diuretic, used to increase the flow of urine.
- The bark (boiled) and flowers (steeped) used for fevers, 3- 4 tbsp 3-4 times daily.
- Poultice of leaves used for sores, insect bites and snake bites.
- Elsewhere, flower decoction used for malaria and lung problems.
- Tincture of flowers and leaves mixed with balsamics used for bronchiectasis.
- In China, seeds used for dysentery.
- Tincture prepared from seeds, rectified with wine, used for fevers and ague, in lieu of quinine.
- In Brazil, leaves used as substitute for Datura stramonium for treatment of asthma.
- Infusion of roots used for diabetes.
- Tincture of bark and flowers employed for intermittent fevers resistent to quinine.

Others
- A purple dye is obtained from some varieties.
- Outer part of the stem has a little fiber, when freed from the pith can be made into paper.
- Used for making blotting paper.
- Dried stems and empty seed receptacles make excellent kindling.
- Seeds are used for bird food.
- Oil mixed with a drying oil (as linseed) to make soap, candles, varnishes, paint, etc.



Studies
Antimicrobial: Antimicrobial activity of some medicinal plants against some Gram positive, Gram negative and fungi: Study showed the methanol extracts of HA showed low activity against B subtilis and pronounced activity against Proteus vulgaris. (1)
Antiasthma: Study of the aqueous extract of Helianthus annuus seed on an in vivo anti-asthmatic model showed a decrease of CD4 cells, IL-4/IL-13 expression and IgE secretion levels in the lung. Results suggest the HAS extract has considerable potential in reducing asthma-like symptoms in a mouse model and suggests further purification of the extract to determine the factors responsible for antiasthmatic activity. (2)
Allergenic Potential / Occupational Allergy: Study showed that sunflower pollen has high allergenic potential, especially with close contact, as in workplace exposure which can result in impairment of lung function. (4)
Antioxidant: Study showed high antioxidant capacity in the aqueous extract of the sunflower seed and suggests a potential for preventing in vivo oxidative reactions involved in diseases, such as cancer. (5)
Antiglycative / Antioxidant / Cynarin / Diabetes Benefits: In a study of four edible sprouts in Chinese markets, the sunflower sprout H. annuus exhibited the strongest inhibitory effects against the formation of glycation end products. The antioxidant capacity of H. annuus was much stronger than the other samples. Study yielded cynarin (1,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid), an active ingredient with a novel function of intervening against glycooxidation. Results suggest sunflower sprouts of H. annuus may have benefits as food supplement in diabetic patients. (8)
Antimicrobial / Mediated Gold Nanoparticles: Gold nanoparticles have become an important tool in the development of novel biological and chemical processes. Study showed H. annuus mediated gold nanoparticles could be an effective antimicrobial agent and present a potential alternative for the development of new antimicrobials for resistance problems. (9)
Effect of Caffeine on Growth: Study showed caffeine in its lower doses has a stimulatory effect on growth and yield while higher doses have inhibitory effect and reduce the growth. (10)
Antidiabetic / Seeds: Study of an ethanolic extract of seeds in STZ-induced T2 diabetic rats showed the potential antidiabetic property. Chlorogenic acid in seeds is reported to have an antidiabetic effect. (11)
Phytochelatins / Roots and Leaves: Study showed cadmium exposure induces the formation of phytochelatins in root tissues and leaves. Phytochelatins may play an important role in removing heavy metals from polluted environments and bioremediation. (12)

Availability
Wild-crafted.
Cultivated for ornamental use.
 


Last Update July 2014

Image Source: Digitally modified public domain image (Sunflower/Helianthus annuus / PublicDomainImage.com

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
(1)
Antimicrobial activity of some medicinal plants against some Gram positive, Gram negative and fungi / Sanaa O Yagoub, Shami El Hai Al Safi et al /
(2)
Aqueous extract of the Helianthus annuus seed alleviates asthmatic symptoms in vivo / Jin-Chul Heo et al / INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR MEDICINE 21: 57-61, 2008
(3)
Helianthus annuus / Sunflower / Plants For A Future
(4)
Sensitization to sunflower pollen and lung functions in sunflower processing workers / Atis S et al / DOI: 10.1046/j.0105-4538.2001.00001.x
(5)
Antioxidant capacity of the striped sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) seed extracts evaluated by three in vitro methods / Maria D L R Giada and Jorge Mancini-Filho / Summary International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition • 2009, Vol. 60, No. 5, Pages 395-401 / DOI 10.1080/09637480701755262

(6)
Helianthus annuus L. / Chinese names / Catalogue of Life, China
(7)
Sorting Helianthus names / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher, / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / A Work in Progress. School of Agriculture and Food Systems. Faculty of Land & Food Resources. The University of Melbourne. Australia / Copyright © 1997 - 2000 The University of Melbourne.
(8)
Cynarin-rich sunflower (Helianthus annuus) sprouts possess both antiglycative and antioxidant activities. / Sun Z, Chen J, Ma J, Jiang Y, Wang M, Ren G, Chen F. / J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Mar 28;60(12):3260-5. Epub 2012 Mar 19.
(9)
PREPARATION OF GOLD NANOPARTICLES FROM HELIANTHUS ANNUUS (SUN FLOWER) FLOWERS AND EVALUATION OF THEIR ANTIMICROBIAL ACTIVITIES / LINY P 1*, DIVYA TK1, BARASA MALAKAR1, NAGARAJ B1, KRISHNAMURTHY NB1 AND DINESH R / International Journal of Pharma and Bio Sciences, Vol 3, No 1, Jan-Mar 2012
(10)
Studies on the effect of caffeine on growth and yield parameters in Helianthus annuus L. variety Modern / T Khursheed, MYK Ansari, D Shahab* / Biology and Medicine, 1 (2): 56-60, 2009
(11)
ANTIDIABETIC EFFECT OF HELIANTHUS ANNUUS L., SEEDS ETHANOLIC EXTRACT IN STREPTOZOTOCIN- NICOTINAMIDE INDUCED TYPE 2 DIABETES MELLITUS / SHIVANI SAINI*, SUNIL SHARMA / International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Vol 5, Issue 2, 2013
(12)
Synthesis of phytochelatins in Helianthus annuus is enhanced by cadmium nitrate / FUSUN YUREKLI*, ZEHRA KUCUKBAY / Acta Bot. Croat. 62 (1), 21–25, 2003


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