Sunflower (Suryamukhi) annual or perennial herb, Helianthus annuus, of the family Asteraceae. The flower heads, having yellow rays, sometimes reach 30 cm. The seeds are used as poultry feed and as the source of edible oil. It can be used as a substitute of groundnut oil in the preparation of Vanaspati, the vegetable ghee.
Nutritionally, it is better than many other cooking media and is especially useful for heart patients, because it does not raise the cholesterol level in blood. It contains proteins, vitamins 'A', 'D' and 'E'. The decorticated pressed cake is used as food for livestock.
The cultivated sunflower probably originated in Mexico. In Bangladesh, it was first introduced as a garden plant, but in the 1980s some dwarf varieties were introduced to cultivate as oil seed crop. The plant is now being cultivated as kharif and rabi crop in some central and northern districts. The yield is about 760 kg per hectare. It takes about 90-110 days for harvesting. [Mostafa Kamal Pasha]