Sunflower. The name itself elicits an image of a smiling face delighting in looking and following its namesake throughout the day. Like many flowers, it has inspired poets, songwriters and artists to capture its essence in their works of which Van Gogh’s several renditions are most famous. “The sunflower is mine,” he said, having painted several portraits of it, but I contend this yellow and orange blossom to be something special to all of us.
One of the tallest of flowers and having one of the largest of blossoms, the sunflower demands attention. Its bright face and foliage is a standout in any garden or bouquet arrangement. Its magnificent splendor is only part of what it offers us, as it is one of the most prolific of plants by what it provides.
Sunflowers have intrinsic properties allowing them to absorb poisons, such as lead and arsenic, so that the water and soil from which they are extracted are safe. Sunflower seeds produce versatile oils used in making butter, cosmetics, flour, plastics, and biodiesel fuel. They are also harvested as forage for animals, birds and for us—in the form of those roasted kernels we enjoy as snacks. The stalks are used to produce latex and the stems contain a fiber used in making paper. This plant is not just another pretty face!
While the blossom of the sunflower appears as one large bloom, it is comprised of thousands of disk flowers in the center with the outer edge border made up of sterile ray flowers. All the disks are arranged in a peculiar, spiral structure that has amazed and baffled scientists for centuries because of their unusual mathematical placement. The sunflower is indeed a “wonder” flower.
Oh, to be like this flower—presenting a glowing, happy countenance and a colorful personality while contributing so much more than these wherever I am planted in life’s garden!
Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. It’s what sunflowers do