Do you like sunflowers? Have you ever wondered where they came from and when? Have you ever been amazed not only by their enchanting beauty but also with the various ways in which they are useful to mankind? If so, then here are some very interesting facts about this wonderful flower…
Sunflowers has always fascinated the creative minds throughout the world. We have all sorts of poetry, prose, paintings, and the like, which depict and describe the sunflower in numerous different ways. The famous Dutch painter Van Gogh was so amazed by its beauty that he created two series of paintings depicting sunflowers in various contexts. Such is the magic of this wonderful creation of God, that whoever sees it once, simply falls in love with it.
Some Sunflowery Facts
- Helianthus, is the genus to which the sunflower belongs. It is a combination of two words viz., Helios meaning sun and Anthos meaning flower.
- It is the national flower of Ukraine and dates back to nearly 3000 years. The Great Russian ruler Peter, while visiting Holland, was so fascinated by its charm, that he took sunflower seeds back with him to Russia.
- The first evidence of domestication of the sunflower as a crop comes from the region called Mesoamerica, as early as 2600 B.C. It has been found that the natives of this region consumed the seeds of the sunflower plant as they were rich in calcium.
- Apart from being used for consumption purposes, the plant had numerous other uses, especially for native Americans – a dye of yellow color was extracted from its petals, oil that was extracted was used for painting the body during religious ceremonies, the stems produced an extraordinarily light fiber, and the time of the blooming of the flowers determined dates in the hunting calendar.
- Strangely, it was after the colonization of the Americas that Europe and the rest of the world came to know about the existence of the sunflower and its numerous uses. Soon, it became popular and began to be cultivated all across the world.
- It has been found that the Aztecs worshiped these flowers, as they considered them to be a form of a solar deity. They installed sunflower images made of gold in their temples, and also crowned their princesses with these bright yellow flowers.
- A sunflower head is made up of 1,000 to 2,000 individual flowers, that are joined at the base. The large petals that are found around the edge are individual ray flowers, which do not develop into seeds.
- A single sunflower can have up to 2,000 seeds.
- A domesticated sunflower has a single stem and a large seed-head. This is in contrast to the wild variety that is highly branched with small heads and seeds.
- A sunflower plant can grow from 3 feet to 18 feet tall, and requires only 90 to 100 days to mature.
- The most distinguishing feature of the sunflower is that its flowering head tracks the sun’s movement. This kind of phenomenon is known as heliotropism. This is precisely why it is also a symbol of the Spiritualist Church, which believes in taking a person from darkness to light by means of spiritual thought.
- The French call the sunflower tournesol, which literally means ‘turn with the sun’.
- More than sixty different varieties of sunflowers can be found around the world. Out of these, the most common one is bright yellow in color, with a dark brown center filled with seeds. The others include those in shades of orange, red, maroon, tan, etc. Some varieties also have striped petals.
- Not only are the petals different in color, but their centers also vary in their shades.
- In the last few years, a new form of low-pollen sunflower has been created. This method will not only help reduce the risk of asthma for the people who are allergic to pollen grains, but will also increase the life of the flower itself.
- Sunflower seeds are used for making cooking oil, medicine, paint, animal feed and biodiesel.
- Interestingly, after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that happened in Ukraine in 1986, sunflowers were used to remove the harmful nuclear debris from the nearby water body. Moreover, a similar kind of operation was launched in 2011 in Japan, post the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
- The tallest sunflower was grown in the Netherlands by M. Heijmf in 1986, and was 25 feet 5½ inches tall.
- 32½ inches diameter was the size of the largest sunflower head, which was grown in Canada.
- Kansas has been nicknamed The Sunflower State. The sunflower became the state flower here in 1903.
- The Bonsai technique was used to make the shortest mature sunflower record. This flower was grown and was just over 2 inches in height.
Apart from being a crop yielding a good commercial produce, sunflower cultivation can also be an extremely fulfilling hobby. These gorgeous flowers will not only aesthetically beautify your surroundings, but will also attract more and more feathered beings to your garden/yard, and add melody to your life.