Scientific name: Helianthus annuus
Common name: Sunflower
Origin and distribution Sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) is one of the few crop species that originated in North America (most originated in the Fertile Crescent, Asia or South or Central America). It was probably a “camp flower” of several of the western native American tribes (North American Indians) who domesticated the crop (possibly 1000 BC) and then carried it eastward and southward in North America. The first Europeans observed sunflower cultivation in many places from southern Canada to Mexico and Spain. Sunflower was probably first introduced to Europe through Spain, and spread through Europe until it reached Russia, where it was adapted readily. Selection for high oil in Russia began in 1860 and was largely re sponsible for increasing the oil content from 28 % to almost 50 %. The high-oil lines from Russia were reintroduced into the U.S. after World War II, which rekindled interest in the crop. However, it was the discovery of the male-sterile and restorer gene system that made hybrids feasible and increased the commercial interest in the crop.