Nature’s majesty is certainly found in the sunflower. The sunflower seems to personify late Summer with its wide brim and expanse of its bloom. A sunny “face”, indeed. The sunflower welcomes a burst of color into our landscapes and our interiors. Named after its massive, fiery blooms, the shape and image is often used to depict the sun itself. Sunflowers gathered together make a striking bouquet or a single bloom can be an impact of seeming merriment. Although sunflowers vary from yellow to include stunning combinations of orange and red petals, it is the brilliant yellow sunflower that acquires my tribute. The simple and classic sunflower. A flower that almost seems to beckon a celebration of nature’s beauty. Instant color and cheer. This impressive flower perhaps adds a bit of rustic flair of nature with its tall and strong stem arching towards the late Summer and early Autumn sun….
The sunflower possesses a large flowering head (inflorescence, or ‘composite flower’) in which its numerous florets (small flowers) crown together to create a colossal bloom. These florets form a cluster in a spectacular interconnecting spiral pattern. A wonder of nature, indeed. In fact, typically there are 34 spirals in one direction and 55 spirals in the other. In a exceptionally large sunflower there could be 89 in one direction and 144 in the other. Who knew? At a typical height between 5-12 ft., the towering, rough and broad stem and rough leaves seem to fade in the background against the glory of the bloom itself. A flower well worth the wait as the blossom arrives, gracing us with its magnificence and color.
The Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus) is an annual plant native to the Americas (the lands in the Western Hemishpere, known as the “New World”). Evidence traces the sunflower as a domesticated plant is Mesoamerica, present day Mexico, around 2600 BC. History states that the seeds of the sunflower were brought to Europe in the 16th century, where along with the culinary use of the seeds for sunflower oil, the sunflower became a significant plant and flower. Scientific literature documents that the traditional single head sunflower plant was grown in Padua, Italy in 1567. Golden images of the flower as well as seeds are said to have been brought to Spain early in the 16th century. It is also recorded that in 16th century Peru, Incan priestesses are believed to have worshipped a giant sunflower, which was representative or a symbol of the Incan sun god. Quite a history. During the 18th century the culinary uses with the sunflower oil gained further popularity. Certainly, the sunflower has yet to fade in its appeal. A timeless flower and an iconic symbol of the sun, indeed.
Throughout time, the sunflower has taken on many meanings and symbols, including faith, loyalty, adoration, happiness, optimism, longevity, good luck, ambition and wealth. Certainly, the sunflower is a flower that summons a closer look and appreciation of. Perhaps because of the enduring nature of the sun, the sunflower is the perfect flower to covet as the Autumn sun soaks our exterior world. The perfect bloom, hardy even when cut, to add to our interior spaces or themed events. It is sure to add warmth and cheer. After all, as a bloom that follows the path of the sun all day, this emblematic flower is sure to bring the sunshine inward…
“Light-enchanted sunflower, thou
Who gazest ever true and tender
On the sun’s revolving splendour”
-Pedro Calderon de la Barca
“And the yellow sunflower by the brook, in Autumn beauty stood.”
-William Cullen Bryant