Improvement status: Landrace
Seeds per packet: ~25
Germination tested 12/2022: 97%
Life cycle: Annual
Though native to eastern North America, sunflowers have been adopted by Ukraine as a potent national symbol. Grown across many thousands of acres, Ukrainian sunflower oil and seeds are exported around the world.
This is an unknown variety found for sale from a food cooperative in Chenango County, New York, as "raw organic sunflower kernels" and "product of Ukraine." Being fresh and raw, they germinated readily, so we grew some out with our student partners at Princeton University's Seed Farm under the leadership of our friend Dr. Tessa Lowinske Desmond. Nate selected the best seed-heads and re-christened these nameless but clearly productive sunflowers 'Slava Ukraini' ("Glory to Ukraine"). The diversity apparent in two plantings leads us to believe this is something of a landrace, rather than a standardized variety. Most plants were between 5 and 7 feet tall, and flowers ranged from 5 inches to 14 inches in diameter. The seeds have proven great for raw eating, roasting, and pressing for oil.