Not just beautiful – they can suck up these poisons

Sunflowers have been used in the process of phytoremediation, a method of using plants to remove or neutralize contaminants in soil, water, or air. After the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, sunflowers were planted to help absorb radioactive elements from the soil. They have been found to be effective in absorbing radioactive isotopes such as cesium-137 and strontium-90.

The process of phytoremediation with sunflowers involves the plants absorbing the contaminants into their tissues, which can then be harvested and disposed of safely. This method is considered more environmentally friendly and cost-effective than traditional remediation methods.

In addition to their use in nuclear disaster cleanup, sunflowers have also been studied for their ability to absorb heavy metals such as zinc and copper from contaminated soil. Researchers are working on identifying specific genotypes of sunflowers that are most effective at absorbing these contaminants.

Overall, sunflowers have shown promise as a natural solution for cleaning up various types of environmental contamination.

Of course, these plants must be dealt with separately from those harvested for edible seeds.