While searching for uses of Skyscraper sunflower leaves, I found many sites that had several healthy food consumption uses. There was only one site that had negative info, saying not to eat them because of bad digestive and skin problems.
Could you help me clarify this discrepancy?
Thanks in advance,
You have raised an interesting question. Sunflowers as a group have chemicals that may cause skin reactions and sometime serious allergic symptoms- even death in animals. (1) But these reactions are rare and generally related to how much one consumes or comes in contact with the plant. As you have seen, there are many web pages that suggest sunflower petals, leaves and stems and even roots are edible and made into food products like herbal teas. (2) Of course sunflower seeds are widely available snacks and sunflower shoots are often added to salad mix preparation.
Here is a quote for the University of Georgia on Sunflower toxicity that sums up the state of affairs: “Since sunflowers are a large part of our snack food diet, this comes as a surprise. But it’s a perfect example of toxicity as a function of ingested amount.” (3)
So, if you ingest a serving or two of sautéed sunflower leaves every year at this time, it will more than likely cause no harm. But if you notice a stinging or burning near or in your mouth or a rash on your lips, hands or arms, sunflower leaves are not for you. I would not recommend you eat the stems as the tiny hairs are known to contain a higher amount of the irritant. (1)