|Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus)|
Welcome to This Month’s Color in the Garden! Primary colors, or the most natural of colors that exist on their own (such as yellow, red, and blue) are the focus for the month of August. Since I have always had an admiration for sunflowers, I decided to look into their history and meaning. I am sharing a post I wrote about a year ago that I hope you will enjoy.
The bright yellow, and sometimes red, sunflower has always had a remarkable resemblance to our sun, leading early Indian settlers to accept the flower as the “life-giving” force of the Great Spirit. Since a sunflower follows the rays of the sun, it was first looked upon as a symbol of spiritual faith, worship and fertility. Today, the sunflower still represents adoration, loyalty and longevity. Much of the meaning of sunflower stems from its namesake, the sun itself.
|Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus ) Taken in Newport, Rhode Island|
The first wild sunflower is known to be native to North America. Evidence shows that the first sunflower crops were cultivated by the American Indian around 3000 BC, but its first commercialization didn’t take place until it reached Russia. Indian tribes crushed the seeds into flour for bread and cakes or combined with vegetables, and the oil from the seed was used for cooking. Parts of the plant were used medicinally for snakebites, oils for the skin and hair and also for dyes to be used in body painting and decoration. Around the year 1500, the plant was taken to Europe by Spanish explorers and sunflowers became widespread as an ornamental. By the 18th century, the sunflower became more popular as a cultivated plant, and by 1830 the production of sunflower oil was performed widely on a commercial scale.
|Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus )|
By the early 19th century, Russian farmers were growing over 2 million acres of sunflower, and by the late 19th century, the sunflower as we know it found its way to the United States. Canada started the first sunflower breeding program, which led to the construction of a crushing plant, and future production of sunflower oil. Today,Western Europe continues to be a large consumer of sunflower oil, but depends on its own production since the U.S. exports to Europe are limited. The sunflower itself is grown worldwide for ornamental uses and is known for its radiance and beauty.
(Photos by Lee Miller and Property of a Guide to Northeastern Gardening)
Sunflowers are seen as symbols of good luck. Planting them around your home will bring good fortune and it is said that if you pick a sunflower at sunset, and wear it on your person, it will bring you good luck the following day. According to folklore, it is bad luck to cut down a sunflower, but if you sleep with a sunflower under your pillow, you will become wise. According to the language of flowers, dwarf sunflowers are a symbol of admiration and gratitude, while tall sunflowers represent pride and appreciation.
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