The Meaning and History of Sunflowers


SUNFLOWER – Botanical name Helianthus Their scientific name Helianthus comes from two words, Helios meaning sun, and Anthos, meaning flower. The sunflower often follows the sun which is how got its name.The Common Sunflower has a long history of association with people.  

Nearly 3,000 years ago it was domesticated for food production by the Native Americans.  The seeds of the wild type of sunflower are only about 5 mm. long.   It was only through careful selection for the largest size seeds over hundreds of years that the cultivated sunflower was produced. Lewis and Clark made mention in their journals of its usage by the plains Indians.  It was brought back to the Old World by the early European explorers and widely cultivated there also.   

Long before corn and beans were brought to America, the Early American natives used the sunflower: they ate the seeds, ground the small kernels into flour, extracted oil from seeds for their hair, and used the seeds, flower petals, and pollen to make dyes for face paint, cloths and baskets.

The Aztecs (Peru) worshiped sunflowers, they placed sunflower images made of gold in their temples and crowned princesses in the bright yellow flowers.

Making their way to Europe in the early 1500’s sunflowers were used for gifts carried by Spanish settlers returning home. The sunflower is the National flower of RUSSIA. The great Russian ruler Peter the Great liked sunflowers so much when he saw them in Holland he took seeds back to Russia. By the 1700’s sunflower seeds were being eaten all over Russia.

In many parts of Europe sunflowers provide leaves for smoking, flower buds for salads, flowers for dyes, and oil for cooking.

The tallest sunflower grown on record was 25 feet tall and was grown in the Netherlands.

The largest sunflower head on record measured 32 1/2 inches across its widest point and was grown in Canada.

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Brighten someone’s day with Sunflowers from Eden Florist!

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