The Language of Sunflowers

Sunflower photo by Romaine

Throughout the South Burnett summer season dazzling heads of sunflowers can be found. These blossoms could easily claim to be the happiest of all flowers with their brilliant, yellow petals and tall green stems.

Each sunflower being hundreds of small flowers seem to take the shape of the summer sun. For me, I can’t help but notice the beautiful display of them adorning the paddocks and evoking positive thoughts.

Talking to a farmer friend this morning a good time to be planting them will be when the frosts are finished; so yes very soon.

It’s interesting how so many seeds develop in the middle section of the flower, providing birds; and many times the opportunistic white cockatoos with food.

Generally around our area the striped bird feed seeds are grown and harvested when the heads have dried and some kept as seeds providing a resource for the next year’s crop.

Extracted oil varieties of sunflowers can be used for cooking and skin care while the non-oil seeds are harvested and roasted for healthy snacks or meals.

It’s fascinating that young sunflowers track the sun. This feature is heliotropism happens at sunrise when the flower buds and young blossoms face east and follow the sun during the day. Later in the day at sunset, the flowers will be facing the west.

You’ll notice too that as the plants grow older the head of the plant becomes heavier and they will generally stay facing the morning sun.

A favourite part of my day is facing the morning sun sitting on a swing seat on the front veranda with a cup of hot milky tea. Something quite enjoyable as I get older.

The scientific name Helianthus being Greek words for sun and flower are very descriptive.

Sunflowers are native to North America and just like potatoes, tomatoes and corn, sunflowers were first grown thousands of years ago. Since then many species of sunflowers have evolved and have been hybridised to form pleasing flower forms, with variation in shape, height and even some petals being toned reds, oranges and purples.

I recall watching the growth of a lovely sunflower around 15 years ago in our back garden near the pond. Our horse Melanie found it a tasty morsel and chomped the head off. This cherished sunflower plant survived growing numerous new side stems and sending out many small clusters of flowers similar to a vase full.

If you ever get the chance to grow a sunflower or two they are certainly fascinating plants and would definitely make a cheery addition to your garden.