With the return of warm weather, it’s time to learn more about the sunflower! This flower represents the summer heat and sunlight in itself. But do we really know the sunflower? Did you know that the sunflower can grow up to 9 meters (in exceptional cases) and that its oil is perfect to add to your meals? To know everything about the sunflower, stay with us and let’s discover all its secrets!
Everyone knows it as sunflower, which is its most common name, however, the sunflower has its scientific name: Helianthus. This term, of Latin origin, means sun. The term sunflower is borrowed from the Italian girasole, which means: turn towards the sun. As for most other species, there are no less than 50 different varieties of sunflowers, including the Jerusalem artichoke. The best known remain: Helianthus annuus and Helianthus verticillatus. Their appearance remains however similar.
If there is a myth about sunflowers, it is that the flower follows the sun throughout the day. Unfortunately, it is indeed a myth! This phenomenon, known as heliotropism, has been observed in some sunflowers at the beginning of their growth but not more than in other flowers or heliotropic plants. Indeed, to support its sunning, the plants “follow” the sun. Indeed, a young sunflower plant grows faster on its side exposed to the sun, so the stem of the plant bends according to the exposed part, giving the impression that the flower follows the sun.
Sunflowers originated in North America, but are now found all over the world. Once a favorite of the American Indians, this flower has since spread widely, but it is in Russia that it has become the flower to give as a gift or to grow oneself. The sunflower became increasingly popular in the 1930s in North America, to the point that Canada even launched an official breeding program. Since then, it has made a name for itself all over the world.
Sunflowers are traditionally associated with summer, and it is indeed during this season that they grow the most. Rains are less frequent and water is scarcer. However, unlike most flowers, sunflowers have long roots that allow them to reach water buried in the soil. For successful flowering, sunflower seeds should be planted in spring. This gives them plenty of time to bloom. They require 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day to bloom, and these conditions are characteristic of summer. Some experts like to get a head start and plant them in winter, placing the seeds in pots indoors. This allows them to ensure optimal conditions for the seedlings, which can then be transplanted into the ground in the summer.
The meaning of the sunflower
The sunflower is a natural symbol of joy and happiness. Its bright colors and its summer blooming explain in large part why such emotions are associated with it. The sunflower is also frequently used as a symbol of the sun because of the many links between them. However, it is also said that this flower represents longevity, loyalty and adoration. This is why sunflowers are often favored at weddings and anniversaries celebrated in the summer.
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Sunflowers are not only beautiful, they are also practical. Sunflower seeds and sunflower oil are probably no strangers to you. The seeds can be enjoyed as a snack and sunflower oil is often used in cooking. Sunflower oil is ideal for summer salads and scientists are studying its potential as a fuel. Sunflower has also had many other uses over the centuries. In China, sunflower fibers were used to produce paper and textiles, while in Europe, it was known to be a remedy for lung infections (although modern medicine is struggling to find a causal link).