Sunshine and Sunflowers , The Colour and Wonder

The sight of sunflowers catching rainbow sunbeams through their petals is wonderfully uplifting. They seem to radiate light and colour throughout the summer months. The name is derived from the shape of the flowering ‘head’, which has a large cirular centre surrounded by bright yelllow petals reminiscent of sunbeams or flames.

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The flower head itself consists of many individual flowers which are a delight to bees. These tiny flowers within each flower head then mature into a huge number of nutritious seeds; which in turn feed birds and animals.

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Sunflowers are a remarkably versatile plant and they are grown on a commercial scale in huge fields for their seeds which can be eaten raw or compressed to make sunflower oil. They can grow to heights between 1.5 and 3 meters (5-12 feet). Their fibrous leaves are also used as cattlefeed and in paper production.

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The sunflower is the State flower of Kansas in the USA. It is also the National flower of Ukraine. In Native American Symbolism, the sunflower is used in summer festivals as a symbol of bounty, warmth and a life-giving force.

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There has been a common misconception that sunflowers always face the sun, as invariably huge fields of sunflowers all appear to be facing in the same direction. However studies have now disproved this theory.

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A simple bunch of sunflowers in a vase became the inspiration for a whole series of paintings in the 1880’s by the Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh. To this day, sunflowers remain a popular subject within art and design.

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I hope this cheery bunch of flowers brightens your day!

Written by Sarah Rees

Environmental Scientist, presenter and keen wildlife photographer; Sarah is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. With a background in television production, she launched her online Forestwatch videos to celebrate the diversity of woodland wildlife and ancient trees.


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  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Paul! Great to see some beauty in the midst of all the bad news.
    Keep on hiking!

    • Thank you all so much for your comments! They DO bring on a smile don’t they?!

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