Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Flower Fest - H for Helianthus annuus

Helianthus annuus is none other than the common sunflower. "Helios" means sun and "anthos" means flower in Greek, therefore sunflower. I grew the Autumn Beauty in my flower bed in Illinois. It almost touched the second floor of my home!

The sunflower belongs to the Asteraceae family and there are so many cultivars as well as wild sunflowers that it is hard for this newbie to assimilate all that information! Colorado has several wild sunflowers. There are alpine sunflowers that hug the ground and the flowers are very small compared to the annual in my pictures. These flowers were almost 12in in diameter. I grew them from seed and it reseeded itself over 3 years. Autumn Beauty is not supposed to be tall. Mine was. Autumn Beauty has flower heads about 6 inches in diameter. Mine reached 12 inches. So either I had the wrong seeds or these were an exception!

The pattern on the flower head always intrigued me. And apparently it is not a random pattern. the number of disk flowers follow a Fibonacci sequence!

Lore has it that the Native Americans selected and planted the largest seeds, producing a much larger seed than the wild plant had. The Russians then developed it further and the Russian varieties were then reintroduced in USA. The sunflower is now cultivated for food, oil, fiber and even fuel. Amazing how such a common flower has so many uses!

Flower Fest - the A-Z of FlowersThis is my second entry for the letter H in the Flower Fest - the A - Z of Flowers.

Flower Fest is the brainchild of Nature & Me and Sree. Every two weeks, the focus will be on a letter of the English alphabet. The current letter is H. I am submitting photographs of flowers as my entries.

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