Saturday, July 31, 2010

Flower Power

Sunflowers are not only pretty, but very interesting as well. These photos were taken this week at the Frog & PenguINN where there’s a small sunflower patch at the end of one of the vegetable beds.

The sunflower facts were gathered from various online sites. As readers of this blog know – and drop-ins will find out – Grenville and I like learning and sharing information.
DSCF6957The default direction of the sunflower head is to point east towards sunrise (the location of the sun when it rises over the horizon in the morning.) During the day motor cells in the sunflower stem tilt the flower bud to try to receive a maximum amount of sunlight. By evening, the sunflower head is pointing west, towards sunset (the location of the sun on the horizon just before it is no longer visible.) This causes the sunflower to basically trace a 180 degree arc, tracking the sun's position throughout the day, from horizon to horizon, sunrise to sunset. Overnight, the sunflower will reset to its original eastward positioning and wait for the morning, ready to follow the sun's path once again. Once blooming however, sunflowers no longer exhibit heliotropic behavior, and the stem is generally frozen into an eastward-facing position.sunflower to sky0731 (3) DSCF6953 sunflower petals0731 (3)sunflower petals0731 (1)What’s called the flower is actually a head (formally composite flower) of numerous florets (small flowers) crowded together. The outer florets are the sterile ray florets and can be yellow, maroon, orange, or other colors. The florets inside the circular head are called disc florets, which mature into seeds.sunflower half open0731 (2) The florets within the sunflower's cluster are arranged in a spiral pattern. Each floret is oriented toward the next by approximately the golden angle, 137.5°, producing a pattern of interconnecting spirals where the number of left spirals and the number of right spirals are successive Fibonacci numbers. Typically, there are 34 spirals in one direction and 55 in the other; on a very large sunflower there could be 89 in one direction and 144 in the other. This pattern produces the most efficient packing of seeds within the flower head. sunflower inside0731 (1)sunflower florets Although a sunflower resembles one huge flower, a single sunflower head consist of 1,000 to 2,000 individual flowers (florets) joined together by a receptacle base.
sunflower CLOSE0728 (2) Sunflowers commonly grow to heights between 5 to 12 feet. In 1986, the tallest sunflower – 25 ft 5.5 in. was  grown in the Netherlands.
DSCF6867 DSCF6953 sunflower garden0731 (4) sunflower garden0731 (5) 
The scientific name of sunflowers is Helianthus – Helia for sun and Anthus for flower. Sunflowers belong to the family Asteraceae ( aster family). The sunflower's name is believed to have originated from the connection of the plant to the sun, both in looks and behavior. The sunflower is native to North America and was used by the Indians for food and oil. Some farmers use it to feed their livestock. They are a great way to attract birds and bees to your yard.
Sunflower seeds are rich in oil, which they store as a source of energy and food. Sunflower seeds are crushed to give oil, which is frequently used for cooking and also is used in the manufacture of cosmetics and machinery lubricants. Experiments have shown that sunflower oil can be made into plastics.
DSCF6941 sunflower half open0731 (7)  DSCF6860 In the U.S. the sunflower is the state flower of Kansas. But its the national flower of Russia which grows the most sunflowers.
DSCF6947 "Keep your face to the sunshine
and you cannot see the shadow.
It's what sunflowers do." – Helen Keller

Want to know more about sunflowers?  There’s lots of information online at the  National Sunflower Association.


Scott said...

These are great Sunflower shots. I thought they were just one big flower with lots of seeds. Thanks for sharing and love all your angles.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Thanks Scott, coming from a fellow photographer, it's a nice compliment. It's great that Grenville planted this little sunflwoer garden with such cooperative subject matter. I check every couple of days for new activity. Enjoy your weekend.

Montanagirl said...

Your series of photos is terrific! And I learned some things I didn't know about sunflowers. Good post.

possum said...

So many shots of sunflowers are straight on... but I find the semi-side views more interesting color and contrast wise. Then again, from a mathematical point of view, the patterns in the center are amazing. I used to love to use the sunflower in the class room to show patterns. Have you ever noticed the patterns in pine cones?

Anvilcloud said...

A fine essay and great photos.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Thanks, Possum for the comments and I agree about the side shots being more interesting too. Haven't checked out pine cones - good subject for a future post.

Glad you enjoyed it, AC, and welcome back. We're looking forward to reading and seeing your trip.

The cottage by the Cranelake said...

Beautiful photo´s!
There are normally lots of sunflowers growing here by the village since all of us feed the birds during winter with sunflowerseeds (they don´t eat any other seeds after they have tried sunflowerseeds). But This year there´s none out there?! I think it has to do with the very cold spring we had, they never got the chance to start growing in time.

But my perennial sunflowers are doing great though. I can now see flowerbuds on most of them :-)
Have a great day now!

Elaine said...

Lovely photos and informative post! I've been growing sunflowers the last few years at the back of my flower bed. Lots of buds but they haven't bloomed so far this year. However, the ones in a planter box next to hubby's shop have been blooming for a couple of weeks. The plants are smaller, but I guess the extra heat next to the building have helped the blooms.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Thanks, Elaine, for the comments. These sunflowers have really done well and today we had at least 15 open blooms. I will post a few new shots in a couple of days. They are so easy to grow and such wonderful floers to watch open.

The Early Birder said...

A very informative post plus a super series of photos. Well done. FAB.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

COming from you, Frank, a nice compliment - thanks. I did have fun including the info with the photos. The sunflwoers continue to provide great photo ops right in our own backyard and keep me taking pics daily...more to come, but maybe without so many facts.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

The sunflwoers are among my favorite flowers, Christer. I haven't seen many birds around those in our garden, but there have been some bees as seen with the one in the photo. I saw a hummingbird fly by and ignore them.

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