It was sustenance for all. They ground the seeds for flour and ate the head as a vegetable. Hopi Indians got dyes from the seeds to color their clothes, body and pots. They even discovered medicinal properties for healing skin bites and injuries.
In 1510 the seeds were taken to Spain and then to Russia where it was hybridized and the seeds both eaten and pounded for oil under the reign of Peter the Great. It was Joseph Stalin who hybridized the plant until it produce flower heads over 12 inches in diameter. Then it was returned to this continent in the sacks of the Mennonite farmers that were escaping the purge in Russia and was grown once again by American farmers. One inventor found that the pith in the stem could be used to add float ability to lifebelts such as those worn by survivors on the Titanic.
In 1888 Vincent Van Gogh captured the beauty of this plant while fighting depression. He wrote to his brother, "I am hard at it, painting with the enthusiasm of a Marseillais eating bouillabaisse, which won't surprise you when you know that what I'm at is the painting of some sunflowers." While the sunflower painting did not prevent his suicide, it did sell for $40 million many years later.
The sunflower, Helianthus annuus, produces the world's fourth most popular oil and is a snack and great bird food. Heliotropic means it turns its head to the sun.
Now that you are so smart, go below and enjoy my sunflowers.
|The bud seems so harsh and angry.|
|But eventually it begins to dance.|
|Some blossoms are a little embarrassed at their beauty.|
|And others are just a little shy.|
|But most indulge us with their beauty as their faces follow the sun.|
|My goldfinch wait patiently for the harvest and visit each morning and evening.|
|They get so very tall!!!|
|As I have written, somewhere, they remind me of a baby giggling.|