Sunflowers have a distinctive and brilliant appearance and a quick check on the web tells me they were first grown in Central and South America for their usefulness in providing oil and food than they were appreciated for their beauty. I don’t normally think much of these flowers but seeing how the weather hasn’t been quite forgiving recently, their bright yellow petals begged for attention on an otherwise dull and gray afternoon. Driving my kids to tuition, I stopped by the roadside of the only house in my neighborhood where these sunflowers are grown and fired a number of shots on the 5DII and EF100mm f/2.8 Macro lens—a combo that has recently become a favourite.
Numerous small flowers crowded together called florets to form the head of the sunflower. The florets create a spiraling pattern to form the flower and until now, it never occurred to me they can be hypnotic.
“The 3rd wedding anniversary flower and the state flower of Kansas, sunflowers turn to follow the sun.
Their open faces symbolize the sun itself, conveying warmth and happiness, adoration and longevity.”
THE BOTANY OF SUNFLOWER
Sunflower plants are of the genus Helianthus, of the family Asteraceae, and are native to North and South America. They are an annual plant with availability year round, but the peak period of enjoyment is from June to October. The blossom is actually a composite of multiple flowers crowded together, with “ray florets” forming the outer petals that surround a large brown or yellow disc. Their thick, leafy and hairy stems often grow more than 4 feet in height, although dwarf varieties are available for ornamental gardens.
Although a bright and attractive flower, the sunflower does not produce a fragrance. It does, however, have value from an economic and ornamental point of view. The leaves are used as fodder, the flowers yield a yellow dye, and the seeds have many uses in food, fuel etc. The yellow, sweet oil obtained by compression of the seeds is considered equal to olive oil for table use. The oil is also used in soap and paints and as a lubricant. Many have found value in its medicinal uses for ulcers, canker sores, gum disease, sore throats and tonsillitis. — Teleflora.com