Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - September 14, 2006

From: New York, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Medicinal Plants
Title: Skin care uses of sunflower seed oil
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Just wondering what, if any, were the traditional uses of sunflower in skincare? I thought I read somewhere that the seeds were crushed up into an oil and used on the skin for sun protection? Is there anything out there that corroborates this? Please advise. Many thanks.

ANSWER:

I haven't been able to find any reference (in print or over the internet) to sun protection for the sunflower, but I have found several references to other uses on the skin and hair. The seeds of the Common sunflower (Helianthus annuus) were crushed and the oil used for a dressing for the hair. The University of Michigan-Dearborn Native American Ethnobotany database lists several skin-related uses for H. annuus:

"Oil from seeds used 'to lubricate or paint the face or body'"-Mandan Indian;
"Juice applied to cuts"-Jemez Indians; and
"Petals dried, ground, mixed with yellow corn meal and used as a face powder in women's basket dance"-Hopi Indians.

For the Sawtooth sunflower (Helianthus grossesserratus), a "Poultice of blossoms used for burns"-Meskwaki Indians.

The National Sunflower Association says the oil of the seed was used by Native Americans on their skin and hair, but nothing about sun protection. You might contact them to see if they know of other references for traditional uses of the plant and its seeds.

 

More Medicinal Plants Questions

Food and medicinal value of Parsley Hawthorn
March 01, 2013 - I have found several sites that talk about how the parsley hawthorn is edible and how the hawthorn berry in general is really great for the heart, but I did not find any mention of this on your info a...
view the full question and answer

Different colors of Argemone spp. from McAllen TX
March 16, 2014 - I took pictures of at least 5 colors of pricklepoppy today. Is this common to have so many colors in one area? How do I harvest the seedpods and when is the best time to do so?
view the full question and answer

Use of cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) for tea
February 20, 2006 - Back in the 50's when I spent the summers with my grandmother south of Hondo, Texas, she use to pick leaves from the cenizo (purple sage) bushes, dry them and then brew them for tea. I asked one of m...
view the full question and answer

What gives the Creosote bush its characteristic smell?
August 09, 2011 - Good evening, Mr. Smarty Plants, There is a question which I would please like to ask regarding a plant called "Creosote Bush" (Larrea tridentata)- does it actually smell like the creosote...
view the full question and answer

Dog eats Celtis laevigata, sugar hackberry
May 21, 2012 - This is an odd question but I am a biologist and have for years notice an odd behavior in my Golden Retriever. When he gets stomach distress or something makes him nervous like an incoming thunderstor...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.