I've been researching the Maximilian Sunflower as a potential oil and forage crop. In Gaia's Garden it is touted as beeing resistant to deer and having a good oil seed. I can't find these qualities mentioned anywhere else. I have also read it is an excellent high quality forage crop for goats. It also supposedly makes a tuber similar to Sunchokes. Has anyone grown these? I'd really like to find some first hand information about how useful the seeds are and how the plant performs as a forage crop as well as any other useful information or uses that folks have found for them.
In my favorite foraging book "Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest" by Delena Tull, the author talks about the tubers Maximilian Sunflower are supposed to have, but says she has never been able to find them when she dug around the plants. The plant grows wild where I live but not on my land. So far I haven't tried digging for tubers on someone else's land. But it is a beautiful plant and one I plan to grow in my Edible Prairie Garden, whether it actually produces food for me or not. The seeds are small, as small or smaller than native Common Sunflower and much smaller than Black Oil Sunflower (birdseed). So would be difficult to harvest for oil without special equipment.
I ordered some Maximilion Sunflowers already but yes the seeds are really small. Doesn't exclude them from oil use or animal feed but I've been thinking. They ARE a sunflower so shouldn't they be able to cross with other sunfowers? How about crossing Maximilians with black oil sunflowers and making a perennial sunflower with larger oil seeds? Other than the time it takes to breed up such a plant are there any holes in this idea?
We a lot of grow sunflowers both because I enjoy them and for food for our livestock. They do come back from the spilled seeds quite nicely as volunteers even here in the mountains of northern Vermont.
I've grown them as plants for sale. They are very easy from seed. One guy came back a couple years later and said he was surprised how big they got. I don't know of anyone who's tried to make one with larger seeds.
I bet these seeds would make good chicken feed. My chickens have gotten a taste for black oil sunflower seeds. They're just a tad too large though. These seeds might be perfect. I think I will plant some in the spring. Any idea if they can stand up to chicken scratching? A few places have mentioned that they are aggressive.
In our community garden we're taljing about planting some sunflowers to act as a bit of a screen afer the ones planted with our runner beans have done so well. Because we have so much space on our hands id like to plant something which doesnt need much tlc, and on paper these seem like a great idea. BUT if I plant them on the edge of our ploughed strip are they going to end up spreading?
Im in west devon on the edge of dartmoor, and we're on the top of a hill.
i have NOT noticed them to be aggressive, especially in a pasture setting. They do spread a couple of feet from where they are planted in the garden. The horses love them and eat them roots and all. The sheep and turkeys like them too and would need a long rest period to recover in pasture. Mine only survive outside of the fence.
I've been growing these for a couple years, they grow 6-8 ' tall in zone 5 Minnesota and fall over and cover quite an area. Blooms right next to beebalm in our garden, and is visited about as often, more by the mason bees that the giant bumblebees or hummingbird moths.
Forms a very dense mat-like base which can be harvested and eaten. We snap off the shoots and add to salad. Very pleasant fall asparagus. Unique flavor.
I grow them too. They are getting tall even here in zone 3. Pretty but smallish flowers, seeds are small too.
Deer don't like them i.e. haven't touch them. I haven't checked out the roots of older plants yet. I read somewhere they are good to keep ground from eroding. The pictures of mat-like roots would confirm that i.e. make sense.
Supposedly they can be grown along fences to keep deer out since they are spiky stalks in winter. Definitely going to try them around our roses next year. That would be the real test. Our deer are in love with our roses unfortunately.
Peter Middlecamp wrote: can be harvested and eaten. We snap off the shoots and add to salad. Very pleasant fall asparagus. Unique flavor.
I'm going to have to try that! I was already leaning towards using sunflowers along my small dam to control erosion and I think that little tidbit helped seal the deal.
"Instead of Pay It Forward I prefer Plant It Forward" ~Howard Story / "God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools." ~John Muir
Ken, I'm pretty sure he means the small, above-ground shoots that the roots send up. Gaia's Garden by Hemenway mentions that the shoots are edible and indeed they are. I'm not sure if they can be eaten raw or not, but we've diced and sauteed them with greens. Maybe they could be prepared similar to asparagus.
Remember to always leap before you look. But always take the time to smell the tiny ads: