When we think about sunflowers, we think about warm and sunny summer days. Did you know that sunflowers follow or chase the sun? It’s true; they follow the sun as it moves across the sky from east to west throughout the day. Learn more about these sun-chasing flowers with these amazing sunflower facts for kids.
What is a Sunflower?
The scientific name for a sunflower is Helianthus Annuus. The word Helianthus comes from two Greek words. Heilos meaning sun and anthus meaning flower. Annuus means annual. Sunflowers are annual flowers, meaning new seeds must be planted every year. The word sunflower means sun flower or flower of the sun. Many believe that the sunflower head resembles the sun
Sunflowers require eight hours of sun each day and bloom in the summer.
What Does a Sunflower Look Like?
When people think about sunflowers, they think about bright yellow flowers. Did you know that sunflowers come in different shades, including yellow, red, and purple?
Sunflowers commonly have a dark brown center and shades of yellow, purple, and red petals surrounding the center. The petals that surround the center are called ray florets. The dark brown center of the sunflower is actually thousands of tiny flowers.
Those thousands of flowers turn into edible seeds once they are pollinated by bees and other insects.
The size of sunflowers depends on the type of sunflower it is. Some of the largest types of sunflowers include the Skyscraper, the American Giant Hybrid, the Mammoth or Russian Mammoth, and the Giant Sungold. The skyscraper sunflower is the tallest sunflower.
They usually grow between 12 and 14 feet tall, but can sometimes grow even taller. Smaller types of sunflowers include the Elf, Suntasic Yellow, Firecracker, Dwarf Incredible, Teddy Bear, Topolino, and Little Becka.
There are also colorful sunflowers. Some of the colorful sunflowers include the Moulin Rouge, Strawberry Blonde, Italian White, Earth Walker, Sunrich Lime, and Chianti.
Where do Sunflowers Grow?
Sunflowers were originally native to North America, the United States, Northern Mexico, and Canada. Today, they grow on every continent except for Antarctica.
Sunflowers grow in all 50 states. Sunflowers like wide open spaces and grow in fields, meadows, prairies, plains, and in home gardens.
Sunflowers are “sun followers” and follow the sun throughout the day. This characteristic found in flowers is called heliotropism. Sunflowers will start their day facing east, the direction in which the sun rises.
Throughout the day, the sunflower will always be facing toward the sun. They finish their day facing west, the direction in which the sun sets. As a sunflower grows, the flower gets heavy and doesn’t move as easily.
When this happens, the sunflower will always face east. Fun experiment: It can be fun watching flowers grow. Plant a sunflower, and watch and record how it moves as it grows.
Amazing Sunflower Facts for Kids
Sunflower seeds are edible and are enjoyed as a snack by many people. Sunflower seeds can also be processed into butter and are a great peanut butter alternative.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest sunflower was 30 feet 1 inch tall. It was grown in Germany in 2014.
In 2012, Astronaut Don Pettit brought a sunflower to the International Space Station. He planted the sunflower seeds and documented how they grew.
The sunflower is the national flower of the Ukraine. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest producers of sunflower seeds.
Kansas is nicknamed the Sunflower State, and its state flower is the sunflower.
Many animals eat sunflowers and sunflower seeds. Some include squirrels, chipmunks, bears, mice, and birds.
Many people believe that sunflowers have healing powers. Native Americans used parts of sunflowers in their medicines for centuries. Today, sunflower oil is used in foods, skin treatments, and medicines.
Sunflower oil is believed to benefit the skin as it contains vitamin E, a natural antioxidant that protects the skin against wrinkles and sun damage.
A small study with animals showed that sunflower oil was used on wounds; it helped them heal faster (do not self-treat wounds with sunflower oil without speaking to a doctor).
Sunflower oil can also be used in cooking. It can be used in place of vegetable oil or olive oil.
10 Sunflower Quick Facts for Kids
1. Sunflower Faces Follow the Sun:
Sunflowers are like nature’s compass! They turn their heads throughout the day to face the sun, a behavior known as heliotropism.
2. Huge Sunflower Varieties:
Sunflowers come in different sizes. Some can be as small as a dinner plate, while others can grow as tall as a giraffe!
3. Sunflowers Are Great Garden Friends:
Sunflowers help other plants grow better by providing shade and supporting beneficial insects like ladybugs and bees.
4. Sunflower Seeds Are a Yummy Snack:
Sunflower seeds are not only for birds; they are also a tasty and healthy snack for humans. You can eat them roasted, salted, or in many flavors.
5. Sunflower Math:
The middle of a sunflower is made up of thousands of tiny flowers called florets. Can you guess how many florets a large sunflower can have? (Hint: it’s a BIG number!)
6. Colors Beyond Yellow:
While yellow is the most common color, sunflowers can also be found in shades of red, orange, and even brown.
7. Sunflowers Have Many Uses:
They are not just pretty; sunflowers are grown to make oil, which can be used for cooking and as biodiesel. They are also used in food, medicines, skincare
8. Van Gogh’s Sunflower Paintings:
The famous artist Vincent van Gogh painted sunflowers many times. His series of sunflower paintings are some of the most famous in the world!
9. Medicine from Sunflowers:
Some Native American tribes used sunflower extracts as medicine to treat various ailments.
10. Sunflower Maze Fun:
Many farms have sunflower mazes, where you can get lost among these giant flowers. It’s like a real-life puzzle adventure!