The name for the sunflower flower comes from the Greek words helios and anthos, which, when placed together, creates a very literal translation for this blossom. Although these flowers are distributed worldwide, they are native to both North and South America. Because of their extensive root systems, sunflowers can withstand the occasional drought; however, they grow their very best in damp, well fertilized soil, under a good deal of sun light. The head of the sunflower contains a large number of small florets clustered within a small space. Sunflowers are hardy plants, and can grow to amazing sizes. In fact, these flowers hold many records in regards to their size. The 2004 Guinness World Records state that the tallest sunflower was grown in the Netherlands to the height of 25 feet, 5.4 inches tall; the largest head was grown in British Columbia at a remarkable 32 inches.
The sunflower flower, due to its bold, human-like appearance, has found its way into art and myth. One such myth is the Greek legend of Clytie, a tree nymph, who fell madly in love with Apollo. Apollo was uninterested in the nymph, and so she spent her days staring into the sun. Because of this, her body began to transform into the slender green stem, her hair into the golden petals, and her head into the broad face of the flower. After being fully transformed into the sunflower, she still turned to the sun whenever it was at its brightest. Some of the most recognizable pieces of art include the Sunflower series painted by Vincent van Gogh. These paintings depict the flowers clipped and in vases, and in slightly muted shades of yellow and orange. Emil Nolde, Diego Rivera and Georgia O’Keefe were also inspired by these bright, beautiful flowers. Artists are not the only ones with a deep appreciation for the sunflower flower. There are many festivals around the United States and several other countries that celebrate these vibrant blossoms. These festivals are often held at farms and in fields that hold a vast amount of these flowers in full bloom. They may also include competitions, flower-themed activities and food, paintings and photography dedicated to the sunflower, and even the occasional parade.
There are many reasons why one might give sunflowers as a gift. The sunflower is the predominant emblem of adoration, and is often given for 3rd anniversaries, as it can represent the message that the recipient is the light of the giver’s life, and they – like the sunflower – will follow them. The openness of their faces can symbolize warmth and fervent attachment as well. They can also be given simply to cheer the recipient’s day, as these flowers are a great symbol for light and happiness.