Plant Spotlight: The Amazing Sunflower

The sunflower (helianthus annuus) is an amazing plant.  The sunflower gets its name from its huge, fiery blooms.  In Mesoamerica, where sunflowers were first cultivated around 4,500 years ago; they were the symbol of the solar deities for the Aztecs, the Otomi of Mexico, and the Incas in South America.  In the 1500s sunflowers were introduced to Europe where they became a popular food source.  Here are some mind-blowing sunflower facts:
  • The sunflower bloom is actually a composite flower made up of 1,000-2,000 individual small flowers (florets).
  • The outer florets bear the petals and are sterile i.e. no seeds inside.
  • The florets in the bloom form an interconnected spiral pattern.
  • Each floret is oriented toward the next by approximately the golden angle, 137.5 degrees.
  • The numbers of right versus left spirals are successive Fibonacci numbers!
  • Typically there are 34 spirals in one direction and 55 in the other.
  • The tallest sunflower ever recorded was in Padua, Italy in 1567. It grew to a height of 40 feet!
  • The sunflower genome is larger than the human genome!
Source: Wikipedia, et. al.