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Helianthus (In Greek, Helios means sun and Anthos means flower)

A stroll down a city street took me past a market where crates of orange pumpkins and tins filled with bright yellow sunflowers spilled the colors of fall. The blooms on the flowers were huge and it got me wondering about sunflowers and their association with the fall season. Here are a few fun facts I discovered:

  • Sunflowers are native to North America and have been around for over 5,000 years.
  • North Dakota is a leading producer of sunflowers in the USA.
  • Sunflowers bloom from summer to fall and can be annual or perennial.
  • The blossom of a sunflower is called a head. The petals are called ray florets.
  • Sunflowers bloom from summer to fall. They are associated with fall because some varieties are at their peak in September and October. 
  • Both annual and perennial varieties can produce large, mid-size, or shorter plants.
  • Annual sunflower varieties are generally not cold or frost-hardy.
  • Annual sunflowers generally die by the end of fall or early winter after flowering season ends.
  • On occasion, annual sunflowers may reseed in the garden when not deadheaded first.
  • Perennial sunflowers produce flowers and seeds and die but come back every year in the summer.
  • Each sunflower is made up of thousands of tiny flowers and each sunflower can contain as many as 1,000 to 2,000 seeds.
  • Sunflowers can be yellow, red, or purple.
  • Young sunflowers track the sun and mature sunflowers face east.
  • Per Guinness World Records, the tallest sunflower grown in Germany was confirmed to be over 30 feet tall.
  • Though most people adore sunflowers, an irrational fear of them is called Helianthophobia.
  • Sunflowers symbolize loyalty and adoration due to the myth of Clytie and Apollo.

Sunflowers provide a bounty of beauty, particularly during the late summer and early fall when they are abundant. The blooms of this stunning plant can be admired in a natural garden setting, and, in the case of city living, even appreciated at the marketplace from afar. Sunflowers undoubtedly stand out amongst other plants due to their unique shape and size, striking formation, and brightness of color. Perhaps there’s no better flowering plant than the sunflower to represent autumn, a period when yellow and orange leaves also appear in nature to fittingly mark the change of season.

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