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definitions - Sunflower

sunflower (n.)

1.any plant of the genus Helianthus having large flower heads with dark disk florets and showy yellow rays

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Merriam Webster

SunflowerSun"flow`er (?), n. Any plant of the genus Helianthus; -- so called probably from the form and color of its flower, which is large disk with yellow rays. The commonly cultivated sunflower is Helianthus annuus, a native of America.

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synonyms - Sunflower

sunflower (n.)



-19019 Sunflower • Ah! Sunflower • BBCH-scale (sunflower) • China Cat Sunflower • Common Woolly Sunflower • David Sunflower Seeds • Desert Sunflower (disambiguation) • Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil • List of sunflower diseases • Mount Sunflower • Nuttall's Sunflower • Nuttall's sunflower • PEG-10 Sunflower Glycerides • Perennial sunflower • Red sunflower • Sally the Sunflower • Sunflower (1970 film) • Sunflower (2005 film) • Sunflower (2006 film) • Sunflower (album) • Sunflower (disambiguation) • Sunflower (galaxy) • Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant • Sunflower Bowl • Sunflower Corporation • Sunflower County School District • Sunflower County, Mississippi • Sunflower Galaxy • Sunflower Market • Sunflower Records • Sunflower River • Sunflower Showdown • Sunflower Slow Drag • Sunflower butter • Sunflower oil • Sunflower revolution • Sunflower sea star • Sunflower seed • Sunflower starfish • Sunflower therapy • Sunflower, Mississippi • The Sunflower • The Sunflower State • The Sunflower Woman • USS Sunflower • USS Sunflower (1863) • Woolly sunflower • Wooly sunflower

analogical dictionary



Helianthus annuus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Angiospermae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Subdivision: Eudicots
Class: Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Subfamily: Helianthoideae
Tribe: Heliantheae
Genus: Helianthus
Species: H. annuus
Binomial name
Helianthus annuus

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is an annual plant native to the Americas. It possesses a large inflorescence (flowering head). The sunflower is named for its ability to follow the sun in the course of a day. The sunflower has a rough, hairy stem, broad, coarsely toothed, rough leaves and circular heads of flowers. The heads consist of many individual flowers which mature into seeds, often in the hundreds, on a receptacle base. From the Americas, sunflower seeds were brought to Europe in the 16th century, where, along with sunflower oil, they became a widespread cooking ingredient. Leaves of the sunflower can be used as cattle feed, while the stems contain a fibre which may be used in paper production.



  Head displaying florets in spirals of 34 and 55 around the outside

What is usually called the "flower" on a mature sunflower is actually a "flower head" (also known as a "composite flower") of numerous florets, (small flowers) crowded together. The outer petal-bearing florets are the sterile florets and can be yellow, red, orange, or other colors. The florets inside the circular head are called disc florets, which mature into seeds.

The flower petals within the sunflower's cluster are usually in a a spiral pattern. Generally, each floret is oriented toward the next by approximately the golden angle, 137.5°, producing a pattern of interconnecting spirals, where the number of left spirals and the number of right spirals are successive Fibonacci numbers. Typically, there are 34 spirals in one direction and 55 in the other; on a very large sunflower there could be 89 in one direction and 144 in the other.[1][2][3] This pattern produces the most efficient packing of seeds within the flower head.[4][5][6]

Sunflowers most commonly grow to heights between 1.5 and 3.5 m (5–12 ft). Scientific literature[who?] reports that a 12 m (40 ft), traditional, single-head, sunflower plant was grown in Padua in 1567. The same seed lot grew almost 8 m (26 ft) at other times and places, including Madrid.[citation needed] During the 20th century, heights of over 8 m have been achieved in both the Netherlands and Ontario, Canada.[citation needed]


  Whole seed (right) and kernel with hull removed (left)

Sunflowers track the sun in the course of a day.[7] However, when fully grown, mature flowerheads typically face east and do not move. Until growth stops, the leaves and buds of sunflowers do exhibit heliotropism (sun turning). Their orientation changes from east to west during the course of a day, not west to east, as some believe.[8] The movements become a circadian response and when plants are rotated 180 degrees, the old response pattern is still followed for a few days, with leaf orientation changing from west to east instead.[9] The leaf and flowerhead bud phototropism occurs while the leaf petioles and stems are still actively growing, but once mature, the movements stop. These movements involve the petioles bending or twisting during the day then unbending or untwisting at night.[10]


  Sunflower field, Fargo, North Dakota

The evidence thus far is that the sunflower was first domesticated in Mesoamerica, present day Mexico, by at least 2600 BC.[11] It may have been domesticated a second time in the middle Mississippi Valley, or been introduced there from Mexico at an early date, as maize was. The earliest known examples of a fully domesticated sunflower north of Mexico have been found in Tennessee, and date to around 2300 BC[citation needed]. Many indigenous American peoples used the sunflower as the symbol of their solar deity, including the Aztecs and the Otomi of Mexico and the Incas in South America. Francisco Pizarro was the first European to encounter the sunflower in Tahuantinsuyo, Peru. Gold images of the flower, as well as seeds, were taken back to Spain early in the 16th century. Some researchers argue that the Spaniards tried to suppress cultivation of the sunflower because of its association with solar religion and warfare.[12]

During the 18th century, the use of sunflower oil became very popular in Europe, particularly with members of the Russian Orthodox Church, because sunflower oil was one of the few oils that was not prohibited during Lent, according to some fasting traditions.

  Cultivation and uses

Right frame 
Raw sunflower seeds, intended for planting.
  Worldwide sunflower output

To grow best, sunflowers need full sun. They grow best in fertile, moist, well-drained soil with heavy mulch. In commercial planting, seeds are planted 45 cm (1.5 ft) apart and 2.5 cm (1 in) deep. Sunflower "whole seed" (fruit) are sold as a snack food, raw or after roasting in ovens, with or without salt and/or seasonings added. Sunflowers can be processed into a peanut butter alternative, sunflower butter. In Germany, it is mixed with rye flour to make Sonnenblumenkernbrot (literally: sunflower whole seed bread), which is quite popular in German-speaking Europe. It is also sold as food for birds and can be used directly in cooking and salads. American Indians had multiple uses for sunflowers in the past, such as in bread, medical ointments, dyes and body paints.[citation needed]

Sunflower oil, extracted from the seeds, is used for cooking, as a carrier oil and to produce margarine and biodiesel, as it is cheaper than olive oil. A range of sunflower varieties exist with differing fatty acid compositions; some 'high oleic' types contain a higher level of monounsaturated fats in their oil than even olive oil.

  Detail of disk florets

The cake remaining after the seeds have been processed for oil is used as a livestock feed. Some recently developed cultivars have drooping heads. These cultivars are less attractive to gardeners growing the flowers as ornamental plants, but appeal to farmers, because they reduce bird damage and losses from some plant diseases. Sunflowers also produce latex, and are the subject of experiments to improve their suitability as an alternative crop for producing hypoallergenic rubber.

Traditionally, several Native American groups planted sunflowers on the north edges of their gardens as a "fourth sister" to the better known three sisters combination of corn, beans, and squash.[13] Annual species are often planted for their allelopathic properties.[citation needed]

However, for commercial farmers growing commodity crops, the sunflower, like any other unwanted plant, is often considered a weed. Especially in the midwestern US, wild (perennial) species are often found in corn and soybean fields and can have a negative impact on yields.

Sunflowers can be used in phytoremediation to extract toxic ingredients from soil, such as lead, arsenic and uranium. They were used to remove cesium-137 and strontium-90 from a nearby pond after the Chernobyl disaster,[14] and a similar campaign was mounted in response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.[15][16]

  Sunflower genome

The sunflower, Helianthus annuus, genome is diploid with a base chromosome number of 17 and an estimated genome size of 2871–3189 Mbp.[17][18] Some sources claim its true size is around 3.5 billion base pairs (slightly larger than the human genome).[19]

  Mathematical model of floret arrangement

  Illustration of Vogel's model for n=1 ... 500

A model for the pattern of florets in the head of a sunflower was proposed by H. Vogel in 1979.[20] This is expressed in polar coordinates

r = c \sqrt{n},
\theta = n \times 137.5^{\circ},

where θ is the angle, r is the radius or distance from the center, and n is the index number of the floret and c is a constant scaling factor. It is a form of Fermat's spiral. The angle 137.5° is related to the golden ratio (55/144 of a circular angle, where 55 and 144 are Fibonacci numbers) and gives a close packing of florets. This model has been used to produce computer graphics representations of sunflowers.[21]

  In culture


  The 'Teddy Bear' variety

The following are varieties of sunflowers (in alphabetical order):

  • 'American Giant
  • 'Arnika'
  • 'Autumn Beauty' (Autumnal colors)
  • 'Aztec Sun'
  • 'Black Oil'
  • 'Dwarf Sunspot'
  • 'Evening Sun'
  • 'Giant Primrose'
  • 'Indian Blanket Hybrid'
  • 'Irish Eyes'
  • 'Italian White'
  • 'Kong Hybrid'
  • 'Large Grey Stripe'
  • 'Lemon Queen' (Pale lemon)
  • 'Mammoth Russian'
  • 'Mongolian Giant'
  • 'Orange Sun'
  • 'Peach Passion'
  • 'Peredovik'
  • 'Red Sun'
  • 'Ring of Fire'
  • 'Rostov'
  • 'Skyscraper'
  • 'Soraya'
  • 'Strawberry Blonde'
  • 'Sunny Hybrid'
  • 'Taiyo' (Orange-yellow, chocolate center)
  • 'Tarahumara'
  • 'Teddy Bear'
  • 'Titan'
  • 'Valentine'
  • 'Velvet Queen' (red to dark claret, chocolate center)

  Other species

There are many species in the sunflower genus Helianthus, and many species in other genera that may be called sunflowers.


  See also


  1. ^ John A. Adam, Mathematics in Nature. Books.google.nl. 2003. ISBN 978-0-691-11429-3. http://books.google.nl/books?id=2gO2sBp4ipQC&pg=RA1-PA217&dq=large-sunflower+spirals+144+89. Retrieved 2011-01-31. 
  2. ^ "R. Knott, Interactive demos". Mcs.surrey.ac.uk. 2009-02-12. http://www.mcs.surrey.ac.uk/Personal/R.Knott/Fibonacci/fibnat2.html#demos. Retrieved 2011-01-31. 
  3. ^ "R. Knott, Fibonacci in plants". Mcs.surrey.ac.uk. 2010-10-30. http://www.mcs.surrey.ac.uk/Personal/R.Knott/Fibonacci/fibnat.html. Retrieved 2011-01-31. 
  4. ^ Motloch, John L (2000-08-25). Introduction to landscape design - Google Books. ISBN 978-0-471-35291-4. http://books.google.com/books?id=f_VMeAToefwC&pg=PA154&lpg=PA154&dq=fibonacci+packing+efficiency. Retrieved 2011-01-31. 
  5. ^ Jean, Roger V (1994). Phyllotaxis. ISBN 978-0-521-40482-2. http://books.google.com/books?id=YJ6uEstnjLsC&pg=PA185&lpg=PA185&dq=fibonacci+packing+efficiency. Retrieved 2011-01-31. 
  6. ^ http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http://www.geocities.com/capecanaveral/lab/5833/cycas.html&date=2009-10-25+16:53:45
  7. ^ Solar Tracking: Sunflower Plants, Plants-In-Motion from Indiana University.
  8. ^ Shella, G.S.G.; Langa, A.R.G.; Salea, P.J.M. (1974). "Quantitative measures of leaf orientation and heliotropic response in sunflower, bean, pepper and cucumber". Agricultural Meteorology 13 (1): 25–37. DOI:10.1016/0002-1571(74)90062-4. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B757B-4894VCC-6J&_user=10&_coverDate=01%2F31%2F1974&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1430973177&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=8fc758fb4e97ec7a00805e186bf189cf. Retrieved 2010-08-15 
  9. ^ Donat-Peter Häder; Michael Lebert (2001). Photomovement. Elsevier. pp. 673–. ISBN 978-0-444-50706-8. http://books.google.com/books?id=2nevsljDiCYC&pg=PA673. Retrieved 15 August 2010. 
  10. ^ Brian James Atwell; Paul E. Kriedemann; Colin G. N. Turnbull (August 1999). Plants in action: adaptation in nature, performance in cultivation. Palgrave Macmillan Australia. pp. 265–. ISBN 978-0-7329-4439-1. http://books.google.com/books?id=chWs4ewSzpEC&pg=PA265. Retrieved 15 August 2010. 
  11. ^ University of Cincinnati (2008, April 29). Ancient Sunflower Fuels Debate About Agriculture In The Americas. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 3, 2009.
  12. ^ Sunflower Debate Ends in Mexico, Researchers Say Newswise, Retrieved on June 26, 2008.
  13. ^ Kuepper and Dodson, 2001Companion Planting: Basic Concept and Resources
  14. ^ Adler, Tina (July 20, 1996). "Botanical cleanup crews: using plants to tackle polluted water and soil". Science News. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1200/is_n3_v150/ai_18518620/?tag=content;col1. Retrieved 2010-09-03. 
  15. ^ AFP (June 24, 2011). "Sunflowers to clean radioactive soil in Japan". Yahoo News. http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110624/wl_asia_afp/japandisasteraccidentnuclearsunflowers. Retrieved 2011-06-25. 
  16. ^ Antoni Slodkowski; Yuriko Nakao (19 August 2011). "Sunflowers melt Fukushima's nuclear "snow"". Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/19/us-japan-disaster-sunflowers-idUSTRE77I0PG20110819. Retrieved 22 January 2012. 
  17. ^ "Helianthus annuus (common sunflower) Genome Project". NCBI. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genome?term=txid4232. Retrieved 2012-02-20. 
  18. ^ Helianthus annuus at National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)
  19. ^ "Sunflower Genome Holds the Promise of Sustainable Agriculture". ScienceDaily. 2010-01-14. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100112121930.htm. 
  20. ^ Vogel, H (1979). "A better way to construct the sunflower head". Mathematical Biosciences 44 (44): 179–189. DOI:10.1016/0025-5564(79)90080-4. 
  21. ^ Prusinkiewicz, Przemyslaw; Lindenmayer, Aristid (1990). The Algorithmic Beauty of Plants. Springer-Verlag. pp. 101–107. ISBN 978-0-387-97297-8. http://algorithmicbotany.org/papers/#webdocs. 
  22. ^ Rev. Marilyn J. Awtry-Smith, "The Symbol of Spiritualism: The Sunflower." Reprinted from the New Educational Course on Modern Spiritualism. Appendix IV in Talking to the Other Side: A History of Modern Spiritualism and Mediumship, ed. by Todd Jay Leonard. ISBN 0-595-36353-9.
  23. ^ "Kuban Airlines new livery". http://www.airplane-pictures.net/image79413.html. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 


  External links

Media related to Sunflower at Wikimedia Commons



All translations of Sunflower

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