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Safety of Mold on Sunflowers

Sunflower    None Given

I am a teacher and I have 6 sunflower heads that I cut and dried, hoping to explore with the children in my class. Unfortunately, all of them developed mold (feathery white with some dark spots) on the back. Is it safe to pick out the seeds, not to eat, but to use for the purpose of counting and replanting?


Posted by: Sara Guggenheim (1 point) Sara Guggenheim
Posted: September 5, 2016




Answers

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Hi
My expertise is fungi and I would not be able to diagnose what fungi you have based on this image. But what I can say is that molds on dead plants and food can often be quite harmful and sometimes very harmful to health. The quite harmful is because they cause allergies for people. The very harmful is because in the process of growth fungi release chemical called secondary metabolites that are often very toxic. For example, alfalfatoxin. In some cases they can be toxic to touch.

So, my advice is to err on the side of caution and not to use these. You could of course use this answer and PlantVillage as a general lesson on fungi. Here is a good resource

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/f...


Posted by: David Hughes (55 points) David Hughes
Posted: September 5, 2016




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Thank you so much. My instinct is to not use them because allergies are so prevalent and/or not yet diagnosed in many children. I am disappointed to say the least, but will err on the side of caution! Using the photos as a part of the lesson is a great idea. Thanks for the resource.


Posted by: Sara Guggenheim (1 point) Sara Guggenheim
Posted: September 5, 2016


Sara Guggenheim commented,
Just for the sake of learning more about this: here are close ups of two of the worst ones. When I spoke to someone on the phone at a garden center, they thought that it would more likely be mildew.
about 4 years ago.



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Definitely a good choice to not bring them into the classroom. In the past I have sprayed a light bleach solution on sunflowers as they dry out to make sure nothing rots and no mold develops. Letting sunflower heads dry in the direct sun is the best way to prevent this from happening in the future too.


Posted by: Kathryn Fiedler (72 points) Kathryn Fiedler
Posted: September 13, 2016




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