Sunflower Facts: Amazing Garden Flower Plant Facts Revealed!

Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Jan 24, 2024 By Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Originally Published on Nov 19, 2021
Edited by Lara Simpson
Fact-checked by Shruti Thapa
One sunflower rising above the rest
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.5 Min

Sunflowers are beautiful yellow flowers that are native flowering plants and the flower of North America.

It has even been deemed as the national flower of Ukraine and has a plethora of uses all around the world. This popular flower grows in the summer and blooms till the onset of the fall season.

These flowers mostly grow in the temperate and tropic regions where the sun shines brightly. Sunflowers have various uses and are famous for several uses all over the world. The seeds of the sunflower are used for variegated purposes and are extracted to produce sunflower oil, which is nutritious and prevents hypersensitivity, gastritis, and diabetes.

Sunflower seeds are a good source of Vitamins A, B, and C and minerals like iron, calcium, and potassium. The production of Sunflower seeds also produces oil-cakes which are used as fodder for cattle and poultry. Sunflower seeds and oil are also valuable trade objects because of their vast usefulness, making them a commodity that earns beneficial foreign exchange for the country.

The biggest producers of sunflowers are Ukraine, Russian Federation, and China. North Dakota is the largest producer of sunflowers in the United States. South Dakota and Texas are the other two notable producers. Sunflowers are also quite popular in the artistic field. Vincent Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' is considered to be a masterpiece. He was the first artist to look up to a flower's artistic potential. Diego Revera, Paul Gauguin, and Alfred Gockel are some of the artists inspired by this painting by Vincent Van Gogh.

One of the best facts about sunflowers is that a person who loves sunflowers is called an anthophile. If you are an anthophile and grow sunflowers for cultivating or for shows, it is important to know the significant threats. Squirrels are the major consumers of sunflower seeds. Phomopsis stem canker, Downey mildew, and rust are major sources of danger to oilseeds and ornamental sunflowers. Field crickets, cutworms, thrips, and wireworms are pests detrimental to sunflower production, while animals like raccoons, squirrels, and hedgehogs are dangerous for the sunflower's seeds and petals.

If you like what you read on this beautiful flower full of life, do check out are sunflower seeds bad for dogs?Andwhere do sunflower seeds come from? Here on Kidadl.

What is special about a sunflower?

Sunflowers are known to be the most remarkable flowers in the world because of their bright yellow color, which looks quite aesthetic and has quite a few functional purposes. North America is the homeland of sunflowers and was first cultivated in North America about 5000 years ago, along with corn, tomatoes, and potatoes. Sunflowers were brought to Europe by Spain and were first used by the Red-Indians in Mexico and Arizona. Their scientific name is Helianthus annuus, and there are around 70 species of known sunflowers. Its scientific name helianthus has been coined from the Greek words sun and flower.

The plants' height and color vary as per the region and the sunflower species, as some sunflowers are tall while others are short. Hans Peter in Germany had grown the tallest sunflower. Hans Peter in Germany had grown the tallest sunflower. The dwarf sunflower plant can be as short as 39.3in (1m). The shortest sunflower is termed a sunflower elf. They bloom for a long time and render a bright yellow color with a 16in (40.64cm) long stalk. These kinds of sunflowers are extremely children-friendly and allure a lot of butterflies and bees. Ideal for decoration and children's garden, sunflower elf can be a huge friend for ceramic salamanders and gnomes. Dwarf sunflowers are known to grow in groups which are called clusters.

Sunflowers are popularly colored yellow, but they can even be orange, red, or purple, depending on the species. Seeds of sunflower plants are of two kinds, black seeds and white seeds. These yellow flowers can be found blooming near moist grasslands, woodlands located near fjords. Most of the perennial species can grow in open spaces and gardens, but it spreads extensively. 47,347, 175 T (47347175000 kg) of sunflowers are cultivated per year worldwide because of their versatility, and the biggest sunflower maker in the world is Ukraine. The Russian Federation and Ukraine contribute to 50 % of the world s sunflower production. Ukraine, Russia, Argentina, China, and Romania are the top five leading sunflower-producing countries in the world.

1000-4000 flowers make one fully growing, mature sunflower. The arrangement of the separate florets begins from the center. Aligned at 137.5 degrees from the center, these florets are placed opposite each other, and the blooming of the florets starts from the ends and slowly progresses towards the center. The lifespan of a sunflower usually ranges between one to two weeks. There are about 70 species of perennial flowers that fall under the genus Helianthus. Summer and the beginning of autumn is the best time for the cultivation of these flowers. Sunflowers are primarily grown in temperate regions and are popularly grown in gardens as well. Cultivating sunflowers in a garden also helps regulate the dwindling population of the bees because they are pretty fond of the nectar on the sunflower head.

Why is it called a sunflower?

They are called so because the scientific name of the sunflower, 'Helianthus annuus,' is derived from the Greek words 'helios,' which means 'sun,' and 'anthos,' which means 'flower' and also because the flowers tend to turn toward the sun.

This is because of their unique behavioral trait developed by them and continues until they mature, known as Heliotropism. It is quite a common trait that is found in most young sunflowers. Researchers and scientists have stated that this plant can track the sun from sunrise until sunset. The flower heads of this plant frequently move along with the movement of the sun on the horizon. This activity is essentially motivated by circadian rhythms. This behavior alters when they cannot find the sun or a light source from the sun.

Their bright yellow petals on the sunflower's head also resemble the sun, and the sunflower fields almost resemble a sea of suns on earth. Their name makes it easier to identify this plant.

Sunflowers in terracotta pots

What do sunflowers do at night?

Sunflowers are known to switch directions at night to face the east because of internal clockwork. The stems of growing sunflowers usually grow more at night, but only towards their west, which results in them bending their heads eastward.

Sunflowers blossom in the summer season and also at the onset of autumn. The young ones trace the sun as their heads continue to trace the sun during the day. They start blooming from July and continue to bloom till October. Sunflowers' face usually faces the east and thereby attract a large volume of pollen, and this can cause them to droop, which might seem like they are drooping because of the lack of sun at night.

Why do sunflowers droop at night?

The sunflower plants are heliotropic, which means that the flowers follow the sun and thereby end up facing the east during sunset but face the west during the dawn. It is at night when these plants regenerate their plant cells, which also include roots. The cells of these plants multiply during this time, and some even become larger.

Sunflowers tend to attract a larger amount of pollen than other plants because they face the east at night. When a sunflower head blooms fully after being pollinated and gets heavy with seeds, the head tends to bend and fall and not necessarily because of the lack of sunlight.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for sunflower facts, then why not take a look at are roses poisonous to cats? Or is rosemary safe for cats?

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Written by Rajnandini Roychoudhury

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

Rajnandini Roychoudhury picture

Rajnandini RoychoudhuryBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature. 

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