Thursday, August 26, 2010

My guest - Window On The Prairie!

Hello, my name is Suzanne, and I live on a farm in northeast Kansas. We are surrounded by fields of corn, soybeans, and wheat. Buy my favorite crop grown here is the sunflower. Sunflower fields are beautiful to look at, but they are also a fascinating plant both in their nature and history.

Each sunflower is not an individual flower, but a composite of many florets. The outher florets are sterile, and have the appearance of petals. The inner florets make up the center of the head, and once pollinated, become seeds.

Young plants follow the sun each day from east to west, with the leaves and developing flower
heads facing the sun throughout the day. Once the flowerhead matures and begins to bloom, the plant stops following the sun, and faces east permanently.

The sunflower is native to Central America, and was first domesticated about 2600BC. And it was either domesticated a second time in the Mississippi Valley, or introduced from Mexico. An example of a domesticated sunflower has been found in Tennessee dating to about 2300BC. Many Native American groups used the sunflower as a symbol of their solar gods, and it is thought that the Spaniards may have tried to prevent the Native Americans from growing sunflowers for this reason.

Sunflower seed is used for snack food, sunflower oil, livestock feed, sunflower flour, wild bird feed, and a carrier in oil in the production of margarine and biodiesel. Sunflower plants are also used to remove toxic substances such as arsenic and lead from the soil, and were used to remove uranium after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster.

So the next time you are enjoying sunflower seeds on your salad or marveling at the beautiful sight of a sunflower field, remember that the sunflower is a plant of many talents.

If you would like to see more pictures of sunflowers, or are interested in seeing what life is like on a real farm, come for a visit. I also have some receipes for tasty farm cooking and handy tips on vegetable gardening.


sufolks said...

Thanks so much for having me as a guest today! Blessings to you in all you do.

matate10 said...

Thanks for visiting this was very interesting. I have always loved sunflowers and never new any of those facts!