Bonnie's Sunflowers © 2012 Claudia Ward
OK, it's official, the flower I once detested and despised is now on the list of things I most appreciate. It's taken several friends (and you know who you are) and a couple of photographers who I follow to open my mind and eyes to these strange beauties. So here are a few tidbits I've learned about sunflowers:
- The scientific name for sunflowers is helianthus annuus, derived from the Greek word helios meaning sun, anthos meaning flower, and annuus meaning annual.
- Cultivated sunflowers have many uses, their seeds are edible and are made in to sunflower oil, their leaves can be used as cattle feed, and a fiber in their stems can be made in to paper.
- The flower "petals" in the center of a sunflower, the ones that are so mesmorizing when you really look at them, are generally in a spiral pattern. They are oriented toward one another "by approximately the golden angle, 137.5°, producing a pattern of interconnecting spirals, where the number of left spirals and the number of right spirals are successive Fibonacci numbers" (Wikipedia) - that makes Mother Nature quite the mathematician in my book!
- The tallest sunflower (in Germany) was measured at over 24 feet tall.
- Only the buds of the sunflower are heliotropic (follow the sun); at the end of the bud stage, sunflowers all face East.
- The sunflower is:
- the state flower of Kansas,
- the national flower of the Ukraine,
- often used as the symbol of the "green movement",
- the symbol of the Vegan Society, and
- VERY photogenic!