My Personal 365 Day Project – “Just Shoot It” – Day 76 – July 23, 2012
Beautiful sunflower my north Texas garden, USA.
Canon Rebel T3i 600D – NO post processing
Common Sunflower – Helianthus annuus
State Flower of Kansas – 1903
The Common Sunflower has a long history of association with people. Nearly 3,000 years ago it was domesticated for food production by the Native Americans. The seeds of the wild type of sunflower are only about 5 mm. long. It was only through careful selection for the largest size seeds over hundreds of years that the cultivated sunflower was produced. Lewis and Clark made mention in their journals of its usage by the plains Indians. It was brought back to the Old World by the early European explorers and widely cultivated there also. Today it is a common alternative crop in the Great Plains and elsewhere for food and oil production. Next time you munch down on some sunflower seeds, thank the many generations of Native Americans whose careful husbandry gave us this valuable food item.
The Common Sunflower is a typical member of the Asteraceae, one of the largest and most successful families of plants. Within the structure we think of as the “flower”, it actually has two different types of flowers – ray and disk flowers.
The ray flowers have the big, straplike structures that we see around the edge of the “flower” while the disk flowers occupy the middle of it. Individual ray or disk flowers may be male, female or both and either fertile or infertile (do or don’t produce seeds). In sunflowers, the ray flowers are usually female and infertile. The disk flowers are both male and female and are fertile.