Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Sunflower Seed

The sunflower seed is the fruit of the sunflower (Helianthus annuus). The term "sunflower seed" is actually a misnomer when applied to the seed in its pericarp (hull). Botanically speaking, it is more properly referred to as an achene. When dehulled, the edible remainder is called the sunflower kernel.

For commercial purposes, sunflower seeds are usually classified by the pattern on their husks. If the husk is solid black, the seeds are called black oil sunflower seeds. The crops may be referred to as oilseed sunflower crops. These seeds are usually pressed into sunflower oil. These seeds are considered the seed of choice for bird feeders.

If the husks are striped, the seeds are called striped sunflower seeds or "stripers." Due to their lower oil content, the crops are called non-oilseed sunflower crops. Striped sunflower seeds are primarily used for food; as a result, they may be called confectionery sunflower seeds.

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