Sunflowers aka Helianthus is a genus of plant that comprises of 70 types of flowers. They are native to the Americas, but have been commercially exported to and grown all over the world.
Here are 5 fun facts about sunflowers:
- The largest sunflower in the world is in Netherlands. It is 25 feet long and 5.5 inches wide. That’s almost 6 meters taller than a giraffe.
- Sunflower seeds follow a pattern which always follows the Fibonacci sequence.
- Young sunflowers exhibit a behaviour called “heliotropism” where they face the East in the morning and turn their heads, following the direction and movement of the Sun throughout the day. By nightfall, these sunflowers will be facing West. At night, they again turn their heads from West to East in preparation of the Sun’s rise.
- U.S. astronaut Don Pettit took sunflower seeds on board the International Space Station in 2012 and grew pretty sunflowers in space. This makes sunflowers a part of the elite list of plants grown in space.
- Each sunflower is made of two different types of flowers – an external ray floret which make up the long, yellow petals and the internal disc florets where the seeds grow – each of which perform unique jobs for the flower as a whole. The ray florets help in absorbing light from the sun, whereas the disc florets help in reproduction.
Sunflowers have been the pivotal focus of the careers of many artists and poets like Vincent Van Gogh, Allen Ginsberg & William Blake. The sunflowers’ behaviour of following the movement of the sun offered a message of “hope, light and rebirth” to these tortured artists, allowing them to express their repressed emotions.
However, sunflowers have also landed these artists in some exciting, but sticky situations. For example, in the year 1890, two of Van Gogh’s most famous painting series – “Sunflowers” – were displayed at an art exhibit in Brussels, Belgium, where they were received with critical acclaim.
A Belgian artist who had his own sunflower series up in the exhibit called Van Gogh a “charlatan” in a fit of jealousy and demanded his paintings be pulled down. Van Gogh’s friend Henri Toulouse-Lautrec who was at the exhibit was so offended by the disparaging remark, he challenged the Belgian painter to an old-fashioned duel. The winner would get to have his paintings displayed and the loser would pull his paintings down.
Guess what happened once the date and time of the duel were set? The scared Belgian artist never showed up, begrudgingly agreeing to let Van Gogh’s paintings remain in the exhibit.
P.S: Image credits- Pixbay, Van Gogh Museum