Early sunflower head remains from Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, USA

Renée M. Bonzani, George M. Crothers, Patrick Trader, Robert H. Ward, Ronald R. Switzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We report on the recovery of sunflower head (disk) remains and associated achenes (Helianthus annuus L.) from Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, U.S.A. These remains were directly dated to 2560 ± 40 BP (810-540 cal BC) and indicate the use of weed sunflower before obvious signs of domestication. Although sunflower achenes are more commonly found at archaeological sites, sunflower head remains have been reported previously at only four other rock shelter sites in North America (Dick 1965; Heiser 1978; Smith 1950; Yarnell 1978; Young 1910). The various uses of sunflower in rock shelter and cave contexts are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-87
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Ethnobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Helianthus annuus
  • Kentucky
  • Mammoth Cave
  • rock shelters
  • sunflower

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Anthropology
  • Plant Science


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