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Composite Family (Compositaceae)

Agricultural Species Of Composites

A few species of composites have been domesticated for agricultural purposes. The cultivated sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is an annual plant native to Mexico and South America that is now widely grown for its seeds, which are eaten roasted or raw. Sunflower seeds contain about 40-50% oil, which can be extracted as a fine edible oil, the remaining cake being used as animal fodder. This sunflower grows as tall as 11.5 ft (3.5 m), and can have enormous flowering heads, up to 14 in (35 cm) in diameter. The long ray florets make this sunflower very attractive, and it is often grown as an ornamental. Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) is another species that is sometimes grown as a source of edible oil.

The Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) is a perennial sunflower, native to the prairies of North America. The Jerusalem artichoke has underground rhizomes, on which grow starchy and nutritious tubers. The tubers can be eaten as a vegetable, or may be processed into alcohol.

The globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) is another perennial composite, originally from the Mediterranean region. The pre-flowering heads of this species are cut off before they begin to expand. These are boiled or steamed, and the thick, fleshy material of the involucral leaves of the receptacle (that is, the base of the flowering structure) are eaten, commonly by peeling them between the teeth. The fleshy interior of the receptacle itself, known as the artichoke heart, is also eaten.

The lettuce, or cabbage lettuce (Lactuca sativa), originated in southern Europe, and is grown for its greens, which are mostly used in salads, or as a green decoration for other foods.

Chicory (Cichorium intybus) is grown for its roots, which can be roasted and used as a substitute for coffee. A leafy variety of chicory is used as a salad green. Endive (Cichorium endivia) is a related species, also used as a salad green. These plants are originally from western Europe. Species of dandelions are also used as salad greens, for example, the common dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis).


Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Cluster compound to ConcupiscenceComposite Family (Compositaceae) - Characteristics Of The Asteraceae, Horticultural Species, Agricultural Species Of Composites, Other Useful Species Of Composites