Short shot #58: sunseed

Reported by Victor Steinbok on ADS-L: sunseed for sunflower seed, as here:

Argentina is a leading exporter of sunflower oil, and it is seen producing 2.8 million tonnes of sunseeds this season. The birds have a taste for sunseeds and also pick on corn kernels from the cobs, often ruining them.

(Steinbok adds that the story is about damage to sunflower and other crops from flocks of hungry parrots and pigeons.)

Searching on {“sunseed”} pulls up lots of references to Sunseed Farm in Ann Arbor MI (which sells all sorts of things other than sunflower seeds) and some for the Sun Seed Co. (which sells a variety of seeds), but also a few for “black oil sun seed”, that is, black oil sunflower seed.

(Searches pull up some other stuff, for example sunroot and sunchoke, alternative names for the Jerusalem artichoke, also known as earth apple and topinambour. The Jerusalem artichoke is a species (Helianthus tuberosus) of sunflower grown for its edible tubers; Jerusalem in the name is often taken to be a folk-etymologization of Italian girasole ‘turn-sun’.)

Now, how to get from sunflower seed to sunseed (or sun seed)? It could be a matter of truncation, a telescoping of sunflower seed. Or a simple truncation of sunflower. Or it could be the result of a reanalysis in which flower is taken to refer only to the flowers, in which case sun is understood as naming the plant, so that it can then be used, in a kind of back-formation, as an element in a compound with seed.

Brevity is part of the story in any case. And any of these routes would allow free-standing sun to refer to the sunflower plant, as here:

I love sunflowers and plan on growing a lot again this year, but I’ll be pulling any volunteers in the main beds, and the suns will have their own area. Also the residue will go into the long term compost piles that I just heap and let sit for years in the woods.

Just thought I’d pass this on in case any body else plants suns in their beds with other stuff.

BTW, some people commented that they always grow suns with their other stuff and haven’t noticed anything detrimental. [The reference is to the reputed growth-suppressing effects of all parts of the sunflower plant.]


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