Yes, the sunflower is a specie that loves the heat and the sun. Did you know there are more than 60 species of sunflower in the midwest? The name Sunflower actually translates from the Greek Helianthus annus. Helios = sun, and annus = annual. So...it's a sunny annual! But there's more...
It is a naturally occurring flower on the Great Plains and was eventually domesticated into the single stemmed variety that is grown commercially as a food source for nuts, oil, and margarine.
Native Americans ground the seeds into flour for bread and soup.
Sunflower oil was extracted by Native Americans by boiling the seeds. The oil was used for a variety of things like hair conditioner, to cook with, and to soften leather.
The sunflower is not really just one flower. If you look closely at this sunny little face, you'll see many tiny flowers called florets. Here a bee is taking pollen from each of them.
The head of the sunflower actually loves the sun so much it follows it around the sky. This type of behavior in plants is called heliotropism.
An urban myth about the height of wild sunflowers growing alongside roads and highways says that the taller the plants, the more snow will fall that winter. Why? So that birds will have something to eat. Wonder how true that is?
It's tough not to be happy looking at the cheerful face of a sunflower. They're blooming now, cicadas are humming and there's talk of county fairs and school starting...pack your swimsuit, some sunscreen, and make arrangements to tube down the Niobrara, boat at Merritt Reservoir, or camp at Smith Falls State Park. There's still quite a bit of summer left to enjoy!