The sunflower is a bright, beautiful and bold flower which has inspired some amazing pieces of art, poetry and literature through the years.
Enjoy these fun and interesting sunflower facts that you can discover here on this page. Kids and adults can learn about some special features of this plant as well as some lesser known facts.
You can additionally use these fun facts on the sunflower for inspiring children to gain an interest in flowers and nature in your home school education and teaching resources.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links for which I can be compensated.
Sunflower Facts for Kids and Adults to Discover and Enjoy: Lots to Learn About This Amazing Flower
1: A sunflower is one of just a very small handful of plants with the word flower in its actual name. Other flowering plants with flower in their name include safflower, elderflower, coneflower, cornflower and waxflower.
2: The word sunflower actually means sun flower or flower of the sun. The scientific name for the common sunflower is Helianthus Annuus.
Helianthus is made up from two Greek words. Helios means sun and Anthus means flower.
3: The Annuus part of the scientific name of a sunflower, Helianthus Annuus, refers to the fact that these flowers are an annual plant and live for just one year.
This has since been found to be wrong because some sunflowers are actually perennials which means that they can live for many years.
The dark center of a sunflower is actually made from thousands of tiny little flowers that develop into edible seeds.
4: Not many people realize that a sunflower is not just a single flower. The large dark middles of these flowers are actually made up from thousands of individual flowers.
The dark brown and black centers of the sunflower are tiny flowers. No wonder they are such a wonderful place to visit for all the bees collecting pollen.
5: After pollination by bees and other insects, the flowers in the middle of each sunflower grow into edible seeds.
Each flower in the middle of a sunflower head can grow into a seed. No wonder that sunflower heads are loved by birds since each one provides a lot of food for birds and other animals to eat.
6: When these flowers have wilted outdoors and the heads have gone brown, they can be harvested for seeds.
Dried sunflower heads which you can snip off the stalk can make wonderful, natural bird feeders.
You can pop the flower heads up in tree branches or onto flat feeders for the birds to eat.
Alternatively, tie twine around them and hang them up as natural feeders for the birds in your garden. Visiting birds will love snacking on the seeds.
Sunflower seeds are a treat for birds to eat. We can also eat them but take care to remove the outer shells if harvesting your own.
7: It's not just birds who like to eat sunflower seeds. We can also eat them. You can buy them ready to eat or harvest your own for snacking on.
Be aware that harvesting your own seeds means they will still have the hulls or shells on. Adults are able to chew the hulls from the seeds and spit them out.
Children should not eat seeds with the shells on but eat the ready made shelled versions instead.
I like my seeds roasted in the oven where they go nicely warm and crisp. They make such a tasty snack.
This was a dwarf variety of a Sunflower that we grew. Smaller, dwarf plants look wonderful inside the home and grow well in pots and containers.
Image Credit: photo belongs to the author.
8: Sunflowers are one of the fastest growing plants which is why they tend to make a great first gardening project for children.
Since they grow quickly, children can enjoy watching the growth instead of getting impatient with flowers and plants that are slow growing.
9: Tall varieties of this plant can easily grow between 8 to 12 feet tall within five or six months.
Most sunflowers will grow in pots or containers providing there is enough space for the roots. But they will normally be much happier when planted in open ground.
If you want giant sunflowers, make sure to buy seeds specifically for tall varieties. There are some dwarf versions, like Teddy Bear, which will never grow very high.
You may need to use canes to help keep the stalks nice and upright and stop them from flopping over.
Kansas has the sunflower as its official state flower.
10: The sunflower became the official state flower of Kansas in 1903. Kansas is also referred to as the Sunflower State for this reason.
Although Kansas is certainly one of the top growers of this flower, North Dakota is the actual place that grows the most sunflowers in the world.
11: Sunflowers are the national flower of the Ukraine in Eastern Europe. The Ukraine is one of the world's biggest producers of sunflower seeds and also oil.
12: Sunflowers are a symbol of faith and loyalty, optimism and happiness, long life and good luck. They are associated with all things happy and positive and really are a cheerful flower.
13: The French word for sunflower is tournesol. Tournesol literally means turns with the sun. The French name refers to the fact that these flowers are heliotropic.
Heliotropism refers to plants which appear to follow the movement of the sun as it travels across the sky.
Interestingly, the Spanish word for sunflower also means turns towards the sun. El girasol is the Spanish word for this flower.
14: Sunflowers have many positive meanings but they are also truly positive with the fact that they are able to take up and absorb toxins and heavy metals from polluted ground.
Sunflowers were actually used to help reduce the effects of pollution after nuclear disasters like Chernobyl.
15: Sunflowers have long inspired the world's best creative minds in literature and art. Great artists such as Vincent Van Gogh have produced famous and iconic paintings of this flower.
Sunflower Facts Summary
|1:||Sunflower is one of a few plants with flower in the actual name.|
|2:||The scientific name Helianthus literally means flower of the sun.|
|3:||They are not just annual or yearly plants, some are perennial and last for years.|
|4:||Sunflower centers are made up from thousands of tiny flowers.|
|5:||Each flower in the center can grow into a sunflower seed.|
|6:||Dried sunflower heads make natural bird feeders.|
|7:||We can eat the seeds. If you harvest your own, remove the shells before eating.|
|8:||Sunflowers are a great first gardening project because they grow quickly.|
|9:||Tall varieties can grow as much as 12 feet tall.|
|10:||It is the state flower of Kansas since 1903.|
|11:||The sunflower is the national flower of the Ukraine in Eastern Europe.|
|12:||They symbolize faith, happiness, long life and good luck.|
|13:||These are heliotropic plants and appear to always face the sun.|
|14:||They have been used to remove toxins and pollutants from nuclear disasters.|
|15:||This flower has inspired great artists such as Vincent Van Gogh.|
It's not actually a fact but there is a folk legend that says if you sleep with a sunflower under your pillow, you will become truly wise.
An alternative version of this folk legend is that you will discover the truth of something you wish to know.
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