Sunday, September 4, 2016

The History and Meaning of Sunflowers

Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus ) 
I have always had an admiration for sunflowers, as do many, so I decided to look into their history and meaning. Since the sunflower has a remarkable resemblance to our sun, early Indian settlers believed the flower to represent the "life-giving" force of the Great Spirit.  A sunflower follows the rays of the sun, so it was looked upon as a symbol of spiritual faith, worship and fertility. Today, the sunflower is still looked upon as a symbol of adoration, loyalty and longevity. Much of the meaning of sunflower stems from its namesake, the sun itself.
Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus ) Taken in Newport, Rhode Island
The first wild sunflower is known to be native to North America. Evidence shows that the first sunflower crops were cultivated by the American Indian around 3000 BC, but its first commercialization didn't take place until it reached Russia. Indian tribes crushed the seeds into flour for bread and cakes or combined with vegetables, and the oil from the seed was used for cooking. Parts of the plant were used medicinally for snakebites, oils for the skin and hair and also for dyes to be used in body painting and decoration. Around the year 1500, the plant was taken to Europe by Spanish explorers and sunflowers became widespread as an ornamental. By the 18th century, the sunflower became more popular as a cultivated plant, and by 1830 the production of sunflower oil was performed widely on a commercial scale.
Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus ) 
By the early 19th century, Russian farmers were growing over 2 million acres of sunflower, and by the late 19th century, the sunflower as we know it found its way to the United States. Canada started the first sunflower breeding program, which led to the construction of a crushing plant, and future production of sunflower oil. Today,Western Europe continues to be a large consumer of sunflower oil, but depends on its own production since the U.S. exports to Europe are limited. The sunflower itself is grown worldwide for ornamental uses and is known for its radiance and beauty.

(Photos by Lee Miller and Property of a Guide to Northeastern Gardening) 

Sunflowers are seen as symbols of good luck. Planting them around your home will bring good fortune and it is said that if you pick a sunflower at sunset, and wear it on your person, it will bring you good luck the following day. According to folklore, it is bad luck to cut down a sunflower, and if you sleep with a sunflower under your pillow, you will become wise. 

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Author: Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2016. All rights reserved




10 comments:

  1. I am reminded of a beloved aunt who planted giant sunflowers along the side of her vegetable garden. It was a beautiful sight, and they must have brought good luck to her garden, as it prospered and she reaped bountiful harvests from it.

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    1. I am so glad this post touched a special place in your heart Deb. There is something about sunflowers I have always admired.

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  2. Gorgeous sunflowers Lee and thank you very much for sharing them with Today's Flowers. Have a great week :)

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the sunflowers Denise. Thank you for hosting!

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  3. Beautiful sunflowers! This year, I haven't sowed the sunflower seeds yet.

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  4. A beautiful flower and it's always great to learn about the origin and significance of the flora and fauna around us, Lee.
    Thanks for joining the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

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    1. t was fun and interesting doing the research on sunflowers along with the folklore behind them Nick. Thanks for the feedback and for hosting your wonderful meme!

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  5. This was just Great, Thanks for the info. it's Fascinating
    I'll plant some next year for luck..
    yvonne

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    1. Hi Yvonne. So glad you enjoyed this post. As I had mentioned, there was always something about sunflowers that got my curiosity, so it was fun to learn more about them. I know they always make me smile, so that could definitely be considered as lucky!

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Thank you for visiting. I love reading your comments and knowing you have been here, and will try to reciprocate on your blog. If you have any questions I will try my very best to answer them. As always...HAPPY GARDENING!

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