A quintessential summer flower, sunflowers are a common sight on bright sunny days which may be telling by their name. However, new research shows perhaps why the sunflower, or Helianthus annuus, received such a fitting moniker.
Researchers recently found that young sunflowers naturally change behavior based on circadian rhythms called sun-tracking, also known as heliotropism. Sun tracking creates changes in the flower’s surface temperature so as the flower gets warmer, it becomes more attractive to bees looking for nectar. Researcher Anne Sylvester believes, “just like people, plants rely on the daily rhythms of day and night to function.” This new research, and Sylvester’s hypothesis, shows us how flowers are able to think and adapt in order to provide for other plants and animals in their environment. This also provides groundbreaking knowledge into how flowers live and grow around us.
Not only are sunflowers smart, they are attractive and have been utilized in a variety of ways throughout the world. In the past, sunflowers were for medicinal uses and body ointments as well as for their seeds; which were ground or pounded into flour. Various North American tribes also used the seeds in similar ways that we do today: crack and snack!
With heart healthy fats and a good dose of vitamin E, sunflower oil has also become a popular substitute for any neutral cooking oil. And as nut-free schools and workplaces become commonplace, sunflower products are becoming more prevalent. Substitute sunflower oil in any recipe from vinaigrette to baked goods, or go all out with a sunflower butter sandwich!
Perhaps the most beautiful and classic use of the sunflower is in a bright, seasonal bouquet or to complete a summer wedding look. Incorporating sunflowers into any event is as intelligent as the sunflower itself. Add cheer to any room or event with an Exotic Sunset Bouquet or incorporate sunflowers into any event; from a sunny wedding arrangement to toasted sunflower seeds as a party favor. So, stay smart and shine bright with sunflowers throughout the summer season!