Sunflowers have different meanings across the world. Some cultures believe it means positivity, strength, admiration, and loyalty.
According to Chinese tradition, the sunflower stands for good luck and happiness and is presented in the graduation ceremony and at the start of a new business.
Sunflowers are among the very few heat-tolerant plants resistant to pests and equally attractive and beautiful. There are many such facts about sunflowers; first, let’s know about these plants’ habitat, appearance, and lifecycle.
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Sunflower plants firstly got originated in America. They later got domesticated in Mexico and the Southern United States.
Sunflower is also known as Helianthus based on its scientific name. They belong to the kingdom Plantae and Asteraceae families. Sunflower growth and development depend on various factors like sunlight, soil, water, and temperature.
It is an annual herb having a stem about 1-1.5 meters tall with a hairy stem and rough leaves. Their attractive head is almost 7.5 to 15 cm wide in wild specimens, whereas it can be 30 cm wider in a cultivated environment.
There are over 80 species with various colors ranging from bright and pale yellow to orange, pink, and tawny red. Sunflowers are mainly divided into three types: tall sunflowers, short sunflowers, and colored Sunflowers.
Sunflowers require six hours of daily sunlight, with soil pH levels ranging from 6 to 7.5. The favorable temperature for sunflowers to flourish is when the soil reaches 70 to 80 degrees F.
Sunflowers can grow up to 1.8m tall and are usually present in woodland, moist, and prairie-like areas.
In Greek, Helios means the “Sun,” and Anthos means “Flower.” The plant got its name because it only turns towards the sun.
Native people of the United States used to grow sunflowers as crops before. Sunflowers are also known as the most useful source of edible seeds.
Here are some interesting facts about Sunflowers::
1. Follows the sun
According to the research, Sunflowers are known to follow the sun. These flowers tend to follow the natural circadian rhythm to receive light for the photosynthesis process. When these flowers get matured, they tend to follow the sun only to the East.
When the sunflower reaches its maturity, its internal clock starts to slow down. They tend to follow the sun to the East unlike from east to west when they are young.
Another main reason for them to follow the East is to attract more pollinators. They also possess heliotropism behavior(directional growth of the plant in response to the sunlight).
2. All the sunflowers aren’t yellow
Is it yellow? No, here are some facts about sunflower’s variant color. There are two more colors of the sunflower. They are born with Purple and Red colors as well.
Red Sunflowers are a unique variety of sunflowers, and petals are vibrant red with a dark brown center. The mature height is around 5 to 6 feet tall with 5 to 6-inch blooms.
They produce up to 10 beautiful flowers per plant and attract insects like butterflies, honeybees, bumblebees, and hummingbirds.
There are different variances of a red Sunflower. Some red Sunflowers have daisy-like heads. They are perfect for adding a pop-up color to a bouquet.
A purple Sunflower is also known as Chianti Hybrid. Chianti Hybrid plants have petals with deep dark red color classified as Purple color.
These types of sunflowers can grow up to 5 meters but lack pollen. However, it can help to maintain a balanced color in the bouquet.
3. Sunflower oil has some benefits
Sunflowers are known to have anti-inflammatory properties. The oil extracted from the seed of the sunflower is beneficial for health. People used to cultivate sunflowers for their seeds.
Sunflower seeds contain linoleic acid that can get converted into arachidonic acid later. These acids fall into the category of fatty acids and reduce water loss and repair the skin barrier.
Sunflowers contain vitamin E, which is beneficial for our skin. Vitamin E is known to be the top antioxidant. It is also known as one of the best natural oil for the skin.
Sunflower seed butter is also known as a healthy alternative to butter and almond butter. These facts about sunflowers describe their importance in a healthy life.
4. Sunflower produces two types of seed
There are oilseeds and non-oilseed produced by the sunflower. The oilseed sunflower production is the most commonly cultivated and present.
Black oilseeds are also a common type of bird food as they contain thin shells with fat content. These sunflowers get farmed for oil extraction purposes.
On the other hand, Non-oil seed is the type of sunflower for human consumption purposes. The non-oil seed grows on the head part of the flower.
These seeds are protected and shelled by striped hulls. They are high in Vitamin E and selenium that helps to prevent chronic diseases.
5. Sun butter
One of the amazing facts about Sunflowers is sun butter. You may have heard about peanut butter, almond butter, but have you heard about sunflower seed butter?
Sunflower seed butter is the best alternative for those who are allergic to nuts. The sunflower seed butter comes with health benefits as well. It has comparatively less saturated fat than peanut butter.
It is similar to other butter. Also, it has more minerals compared to both peanut and almond butter. It is also a good source of protein, magnesium, and healthy fats.
You can spread the butter on your toast, pancake, waffles, oatmeal, etc. The butter may also help you to lose weight as it has enough source of nutrients than fats.
6. Can self-pollinate
Self-pollination is one of the mechanisms where flowers tend to stay alive. In the situation where the stigma doesn’t receive pollen, it will twist and wrap around its pollen.
One of the common ways of pollination in sunflowers is attracting bees and transferring pollen to other stigmas. The plants produced from the self-pollination process are similar to the original sunflower plant.
However, self-pollination doesn’t create diversified offspring. Some plants fail to adapt to the environment as well. The pollinators like bees, hoverflies are attracted by the brightly colored petals of sunflowers.
7. Teddy bear sunflower
These sunflowers are different from other common sunflowers. Teddy bear sunflowers are bushy and spherical in appearance.
They tend to produce double blooms that lead them to have fluffy heads like a bear. Their unusual anatomy led them to receive an award of Garden Merit as well.
These flowers are for decorations as well. Also, some people use teddy bear flowers for cake decorations. Their heavy and attractive physicality enhances the beauty of anything.
These sunflowers produce flowers after eight weeks of planting the seed. They tend to attract bees and butterflies throughout the summer and are usually active during summertime.
8. Thousands of tiny flowers in their head
As we have hair in our heads, sunflowers do have hair in the form of thousands of mini flowers. Each petal present in the circumference of the head is a flower itself.
Their long and colorful petals are known as “Ray Florets.” Ray florets cannot reproduce, but the disc florets present in the middle can.
Disc florets are present in the middle where the seeds produce. It has both male and female sex organs. Each of these organs is known for generating seeds.
9. Absorb nuclear radiation.
They might look calm, beautiful, and soft, but they are known to be good at observing toxins similar to nuclear radiation. They first tried this experiment back in the mid-1990s near the Chernobyl power plant meltdown.
Recently they planted millions of sunflowers outside the nuclear plant in Fukushima after the tsunami disaster struck. These facts about sunflowers are astounding as they can diminish the toxic air.
Some of the features and abilities of Sunflowers are different from other herbs. From their heliotropism behavior to their tendency to be heat-resistant are some interesting facts about Sunflowers.