When we think about sunflowers we think about warm and sunny summer days. Did you know that sunflowers actually 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 comes meaning 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, purples 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 depend on the type of sunflower it is. Some of the largest types of sunflowers include the Skyscraper, 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, the 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 actually 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 it 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 as it grows watch and record how it moves. ]
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 is a great alternative to peanut butter.
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 up 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 their state flower is the sunflower.
There are many animals that eat sunflower and sunflower seeds. Some of them include squirrels, chipmunks, bears, mice, and different types of birds.
Many people believe that sunflowers have healing powers. Native Americans have used parts of sunflowers in their medicines for centuries. Today sunflower oil is used in foods, skin treatments and even medicines.
Sunflower oil is believed to benefit the skin as it contains vitamin E which is a natural antioxidant that protect the skin against wrinkles, and sun damage.
A small study that was done with animals show that when 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.