It’s summer, and it’s very bright outside! Summer is always identic with the hot weather, refreshing juices, and of course, sunflowers! Sunflowers are the embodiment of summer with their bright and cheery appearance. They have yellow-bright petals and tall green stems. This flower has existed ever since a long time ago and is widely loved by everyone.
Sunflower is often said to be a symbol of happiness and congratulate someone when given as a gift. Yet it doesn’t get appointed as the symbol of joy just like that; there was quite a long history that made this flower popular and well-loved by everyone. We are going to share with you everything we have compiled about these bright and beautiful flowers.
The history and origin of Sunflower
The name “Sunflower” comes from the plant’s tendency to reposition itself to face the sun, hence the name. Its genus name, Helianthus, came from the Greek words “helios” which means sun, and “anthos” meaning flower. Sunflowers are said to have been domesticated 3000 to 5000 years ago by Native Americans. They can be used primarily as edible seeds. Later, they were introduced to Europe in the early 16th century and later made their way into Russia. In Russia, they were developed and drowned on an industrial scale by the oilseed cultivators. This oilseed cultivation process has been reintroduced to North America in the middle of the 20th century. When North America began to produce and breed sunflowers, the new breed of the Helianthus. started to distribute in new geographical areas.
There was also mythology about why sunflowers turn towards the sun. It was said that a water nymph named Clytie adored the God of the Sun, Apollo. At first, Apollo loved Clytie too, but he turned his affections towards another nymph. Because of her rage and jealousy, Clytie told the other nymph’s father, and as punishment, the nymph is buried alive. Outraged, Apollo turned Clytie into a sunflower, but because Clytie’s love for Apollo was so strong, she always watched him move across the sky every day, as to how the sunflowers follow the sun.
The meaning of Sunflower
Across the world, there have been several meanings and symbolism for sunflowers. It mainly relates to positivity and happiness. Generally, yellow represents vitality, happiness, intelligence, and traditionally, friendship. In Chinese culture, sunflowers are said to mean good luck and lasting happiness; hence they are often given for graduation gifts and new business. Because of the Greek myth of Clytie and Apollo, the Sunflower is associated with adoration and loyalty.
The Incas used sunflowers as the symbol of the Sun God and brought them to temples to worship. The priestesses usually also wore sunflowers on their garments and crowns. In Native American symbolism, the Sunflower is traditionally used in late summer festivals and becomes the symbol of harvest, provision, and bounty. This flower is also used as a gift for the 3rd wedding anniversary as a symbol of adoration, strength, and loyalty.
The cultural significance of Sunflowers
Being a legendary flower that many people love, countless artists have been used as an inspiration. Van Gogh portrayed this flower in his most well-known painting in his sunflower series, including the Vase with Twelve Sunflowers, Two Cut Sunflowers, and Four Cut Sunflowers. Authors and influential figures have also used this flower as a symbol to inspire and encourage with their famous quotes, such as Helen Keller and Jean Paul’s quotes.
The uses and benefits of Sunflowers
Despite their catchy appearance with bright yellow colors, sunflowers can be used for many purposes, from medicinal use to cooking oils. They can provide oil and food, and small birds, especially songbirds, love their seeds.
- Sunflowers for decoration and gifts. Naturally, sunflowers are the perfect decoration for you to display both indoors or outdoors. They can give a bold and striking touch to your floral arrangement or be packed up in a beautiful bouquet as a gift for your beloved. You can use it for a country-style wedding bouquet. It will be an aesthetically pleasing bouquet for your special day.
- Sunflowers for vegetable cooking oil. Sunflower oil can be used in many types of cooking, from baking or margarine and butter’s substitute in cakes, cookies, and bakes. It can also be used for frying and roasting vegetables or the base for a salad oil dressing. Sunflower oil is lighter and healthier without any overpowering flavor.
- Sunflowers for massage oil. Using the same oil as the cooking oil above, it can be used for DIY facial scrubs as it is very light and non-greasy without any strong smell and great for our skin.
- Sunflowers for a healthy snack. Have you ever snacked on sunflower seeds? They are healthy and nutritious, perfect for a balanced diet. You can eat them raw or roasted off for extra flavor. However, it would be best if you minded about the shells as overeating might cause constipation and stomach ache, so it’s recommended to eat the seeds without the shells. It can offer a great source of vitamin E to keep our skin and eyes in good health. Aside from vitamin E, it also contains vitamin A, B, protein, calcium, iron, and nitrogen.
- Sunflowers for natural dyes. The petals and the seeds of this plant can produce a natural coloring, ranging in the shades of yellow to orange or a light tan. The Hopi variety of Sunflower can even make grey to dark purple dye shades. These dyes can be used to color fabrics and yarns.
- Sunflowers for bird food. If you love to see birds flying around your backyard, you can use a black-oil seed sunflower that might be able to attract a bigger selection of birds.
- Sunflowers for medicine. In the past, Native Americans used Sunflower to treat wounds from the stems’ juice or to treat kidneys and chest pains by infusing the plant in water. But they aren’t typically used for medicine anymore in this era.