4 Fun Facts About Sunflowers
Sunflowers are one of our favorite fall flowers here at Bloom. Not only are they happy and bright, these field grown beauties are incredibly interesting! Read on for four facts about these blooms.
1. Sunflowers are actually thousands of tiny flowers
Each sunflower’s head is made of smaller petals. The petals we see around the outside are called ray florets. The middle is composed of disc florets, which is where the seeds are made. Sunflowers can self-pollinate, which means they can take pollen blown by the wind or transported by insects.
Sunflowers may be able to self-pollinate, but the team at Bloom does flower deliveries all over Kossuth County on four wheels :)
2. Sunflowers follow the sun
This is called heliotropism, but unlike my coffee addiction, it’s a habit they grow out of! When a sunflower is developing, its face follows the sun from sunrise to sunset every day and repeats the cycle until maturity. Why?
- Sunflowers can attract up to five times more pollinators because they warm up faster than westward facing plants. More pollinators equals more sunflowers!
As sunflowers reach maturity, their internal clocks start slowing down until they complete the heliotropism behavior completely - that’s when they are ready to be cut and designed into beautiful bouquets like this one, our popular Sunny Bouquet.
3. Sunflowers were first grown as a food source
They were cultivated in North America as far back as 3000 BC, when they were developed for food, medicine, dye, and oil. Then, they were exported to the rest of the world by Spanish conquistadors around 1500 BC. Natives Americans developed the sunflower plant as a food source. The seeds were ground for flour to make bread and cakes. They were also roasted, cracked and eaten whole, either as a snack or mixed with other grains. The early Americans also discovered that sunflower oil could be extracted and used for cooking.
4. Sunflowers were brought to Russia by royalty
Tsar Peter the Great was so fascinated by the sunny flowers that he took some back to Russia. They became popular when people discovered that sunflower seed oil was not banned for consumption during Lent, unlike the other oils the Russian Orthodox Church banned. By the 19th century, the country was planting two million acres of sunflowers every year. Sunflower seeds are now a beloved snack and almost a “guilty pleasure” in Russia and Ukraine. These two countries supply up to 8o% of the world’s sunflower oil exports.
According to the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, “The ubiquitous presence of the sunflower in the villages and countryside of Ukraine has made it an unofficial national symbol.” Sunflowers have been a symbol of peace in Ukraine for decades, but even more so with the 2022 Russian invasion of the country. These bright blooms, often thought of as simple garden or agricultural flowers, today represent the resilience and strength of the Ukrainian people.
The sunflower, whether growing in rural fields or enjoyed at the table of a Tsar, has been and continues to be a sign of brighter days to come.