For those of you who love sunflowers, you’ll likely know where you can see the best sunflowers in the world. Apparently Europe and Russia produce roughly 60% of the sunflowers in the world so it shouldn’t be any surprise that Eastern Europe in general has its fair share of beautiful sunflowers. I was blown away by a field of sunflowers a few years ago on my drive from Hungary to the Czech Republic through Slovakia. It was breathtaking.
And, I’ve been my fair share of sunflowers on a few continents now — Austria at the recent Night to Remember event in New York City I attended, even had a massive bouquet of sunflowers on the table as well as a giant photo of them on the wall depicting the same.
Late this past summer, I was taken aback as I drove past a field of sunflowers by bike on the island of Nantucket, some 30 or so miles south of Cape Cod Massachusetts. There were absolutely breathtaking. Have a look!
While sunflowers are popular in many parts of Europe, they are also native to Minnesota to Texas and California and perhaps also in Central and South America. Native Americans cultivated the plant and found many uses for it: the nutritious seeds were eaten raw, made into a meal, or used as a source of hair oil; a yellow dye was obtained from the flower heads, and a fiber from the stalks; the roots of certain other species were eaten.
Today the sunflower is widely cultivated; it is particularly valued in the countries of the former Soviet Union, where the seeds are made into bread. The seeds are almost universally used as a poultry food and principally as the source of an oil utilized for such purposes as cooking and soapmaking; the oil cake is fed to stock.
The sunflower is the state flower of Kansas, and a sunflower is regarded as the floral emblem of Peru, where it was revered by the ancient sun worshipers. Several other species are in cultivation—some are garden flowers; the Jerusalem artichoke is a food plant. In other words, its more tolerant to low temperatures although it is widely known to grow in both warm and cold climates.