Although you may be most familiar with sunflowers by crunching on the seeds, these flowers add sunshine wherever they turn up. I love to see them in gardens and indoors as cut flowers. They seem to have a universal appeal. Little children often draw or paint them, as did Van Gogh and other artists, and I find some to photograph every summer.
Although they appear to be simple flowers with a brown center and yellow petals they are actually quite complex. Technically they are classified as an inflorescence, which means the large flower is actually made up of many small flowers, or florets. The florets are arranged in interconnected spiral patterns that can be expressed in a mathematical formula.
They are native to the U.S. and south through Central America. The native people used them for food, oil, dyes and body paint, and medicinal ointments. More recently they helped with the cleanup at Chernobyl and Fukushima after the nuclear disasters. Here’s to sunflowers!