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Summer Blooms–The Sunflower

Did you know that the big and beautiful Sunflower comes from the same species family as the Daisy I talked about in my last blog entry?  It does!  And it’s also been around for over 3000 years, not only gracing fields with it’s gorgeous rich color, but also as a food source.  In fact, Sunflower seeds were taken to Europe in the 16th century, where, along with sunflower oil, they became a widespread cooking ingredient.   Sunflower leaves can be used as a cattle feed, while the stems contain a fiber which may be used in paper production.

Like its cousin the Daisy, the Sunflower is also two different types of flowers, the ray and the disk, combined to appear as just one single bloom.  A closer look at the center of the Sunflower shows that the disk flowers grow in a mesmerizing pattern of two opposite spirals.  You can see this best before the disk flower actually opens or after all the seed has been set. It’s a fascinating pattern.

The Sunflower is the state flower of Kansas and is native to America.    Their stems can reach over 10 foot tall and the bloom span can be nearly 12 inches wide.

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