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Sunflower is the Perfect Emblem of Anti Nuclear Symbol

Updated on July 15, 2014

The Globe Trotting Flower on the planet

Strange History

Sunflower was first cultivated in Americas particularly in Mexico and in the prairie state of Kansas, Eastern United States.. The name is derived from the the shape of its blooms which perfectly resembles the sun. The Europeans saw their first Sunflower cultivated by the Incas through years of selected breeding of the small, wild flowers. It was the Spanish botanists who received the first batches of seeds which the European explorers brought back to Europe.

By middle of 16th century the Sunflowers grew in abundance in the native villages of Spain and quickly spread to Italy, Egypt, India, China and in Holland. After centuries of globe trotting the sunflower traveled back to the American homeland and grown domestically for its industrial uses.

The Native American Indians grow Sunflower as a food crop and eat the calcium rich seeds. The sunflower we have now bears no resemblance to how it started out as the human race has interfered with its characteristics for all these thousands of years. The Aztecs were also cultivating sunflower as source of their fats to supplement the lean meat diet. They also venerated the Sunflower and you will find drawings and engraving of the flower in their temples.

The Sunflower is used to create a purple dye to enhance the color of clothing, paint bodies and to decorate objects. The seed oil is used to lubricate hair and skin, and other parts of the plants were used to make medicinal remedies for snake bites and ointments.

International Status

It was in Holland a country renowned for cultivating flowers that Sunflower received its international recognition. Peter the Great of Russia became enamored of its beauty, he imported vast seeds and brought it back to his native homeland Russia. Thousand of acres were allocated for its cultivation as a source of edible oil. It was in Russia that Sunflower underwent several genetic tweaking to produce several varieties and variations of different shades which made up the colorful variety of Sunflowers we come to enjoy and appreciate today.

Sunflowers require 90 days to 100 days to grow and each sunflower head can yield up to 2000 seeds.Sunflowers have 80 different varieties and belong to the genus Helianthus, where Helios means sun and anthus means flower. There are two kinds, the perennials varieties and the annuals. Most people of today refer to the Helianthus annuus meaning annual sunflower of which there are 38 species.

Perennial Sunflowers

  1. Helianthus Maximillianii also known as Prairie Sunflower has many 3” flower heads and grows up to 10 feet. It takes much space and tends to be invasive if you do not prune its head before they go to seed.
  2. Helianthus Angustifolious is a Swamp Sunflower that mostly grows in the Eastern United States with long narrow leaves, favors moist places as its name imply, can still be grown in dry soil but will not be as tall.
  3. Helianthus Divaricatus also known as Woodland Sunflower spread by rhizomes to form clumps, invasive if not keep on check, blooms from July to September and grows up to six feet tall.

Annual Sunflowers

  1. Helianthus Annuus – Sunny smile

A dwarf sunflower that grows only 12 to 15 inches tall. No pollen, perfect for bringing inside for interior décor. Yields four to 5 “ blooms when planted outside, and one big flower if you plant it in a pot.

2. Helianthus annuus – Cocoa Sun

Dwarf enough to be planted in flower boxes and grows from 10 to 12 inches tall with enormous yellow flower heads. It has a dark green foliage that looks black from a distance.

3 Helianthus annuus - Moonshadow

Almost white colored sunflower that yields 4 inch flower heads atop a 4 foot tall stalks. Free pollen and perfect for cut flowers, not messy and blooms up to 3 weeks. It needs fertilizer and compost added on the soil.

4. Helianthus debilis- Vanilla Ice

The creamy color petals produces multi branched stems that carry 5 inch blooms wonderfully suited for cut flowers. Moist conditions will yield more blooms and grows 5 to 6 feet all in the soil.

5.Helianthus annuus – Velvet Queen

The flower petals has various shades of orange and yellow with large black center and produces 6 inch blooms on a 5 to 5 feet tall stalks. It feels great to be standing among these beauties.

6.Helianthus annuus – The Joker

This sunflower burst a wonderful double starburst, proudly displaying its 6 to 8 inches blooms on a 6 to 7 feet stalks. Makes a greet screen from nosey neighbors and unsightly views.

7.Helianthus annuus – Claret Hybrid

It showcase a 6 inch deeply stunning red petals which do not fade in the Sun. This side branching flower makes superb temporary screen for it grows 5 to 6 feet tall stalks.

8. Helianthus annuus – Russian Mammoth

This sunflower is living up to its mammoth reputation that grows from 8 to 10 feet tall from top of its flower head to its stalks. The sunflower blooms can reach up to 14 inches wide. This heirloom variety that needs staking to protect the young stalks from toppling over.

Magical Perspective

Sunflowers have motor cells on the head, which moves the head so it faces the sun

Do you know a field of young sunflowers will slowly rotate from east to west during the course of a sunny day, each leaf seeking out as much sunlight as possible as the sun moves across the sky through, and will return back to east in the afternoon, to get ready for when the sun rises again the next morning, an adaptation called heliotropism . Those sunflower spirals, pack florets as tight as can be, maximizing their ability to gather sunlight for the plant. But how do plants like sunflowers create such perfect floret arrangements, and what does it have to do with Fibonacci numbers?

A plant hormone called auxin, promotes cell growth and elongation of the plant. In the elongation process, auxin alters the plant wall plasticity making it easier for the plant to grow upwards. Auxin also influences rooting formations.

Auxin is responsible for apical dominance and phototropism. Apical dominance means that a plant has the tendency to grow quickly up the central shaft without properly filling in the plant with smaller limbs and leaves. Phototropism or heliotropism is a process by which auxin on the exterior of a plant is degraded to cause a slope of the plant towards light. Florets grow where auxin flows. Using a mathematical model that describes how auxin and certain proteins interact to transport each other around inside plants.

The Ratio of Golden Mean on the Sunflower’s pack florets

Sunflower florets show a remarkable feature: The numbers of clockwise and counterclockwise spirals are consecutive Fibonacci numbers—the sequence 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, and so on, so that each number is the sum of the last two. When you observe the heads of sunflowers, you notice two series of curves, one winding in one sense and one in another. Sunflowers provide a great example of these spiraling patterns. In some cases, the seed heads are so tightly packed that total number can get quite high — as many as 144 or more. And when counting these spirals, the total tends to match a Fibonacci number. Interestingly, a highly irrational number is required to optimize filling (namely one that will not be well represented by a fraction). Phi fits the bill rather nicely.

The golden mean is (phi = 1.61803...) can be seen from the microscale to the macroscale, and right through to biological systems and inanimate objects. While the Golden Ratio doesn't account for every structure or pattern in the universe, it's certainly a major player. Typically, seeds are produced at the center, and then migrate towards the outside to fill all the space. Sunflowers provide a great example of these spiraling patterns Each seed is placed at 0.618034 per turn (out of a 360° circle) allowing for the best possible exposure to sunlight and other factors.

Cosmetic Application of Sunflower

Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil is a clear, slightly amber-colored liquid. The addition of hydrogen atoms to sunflower seed oil results in Hydrogenated Sunflower Seed Oil. Sunflower Seed Glycerides is a mixture of mono-, di- and triglycerides derived from sunflower seed oil, while Sunflower Seed Glyceride is the monoglyceride derived from sunflower seed oil.

Sunflower Seed Acid is a mixture of fatty acids derived from sunflower seed oil. Sunflower Seed Oil and the other sunflower oil-derived ingredients are used in the formulation of a wide variety of product types, including bath products, makeup, cleansing products, depilatories, hair conditioners, shampoos, other hair care products, skin care products, and suntan products. Sunflower oil is an emollient, emulsifier, stabilizer and surfactant needed for cosmetic manufacturing which is ideal for human skin because it is derived from precious organic oil.

The Removal of Radiation using Sunflower

In the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster area, one kilometer away from ground zero, engineers plant many patches of Sunflowers in a pond which s marks the first successful field demonstration using terrestrial plants for removing radionu-clides from contaminated water, a process known as rhizofiltration.

Contaminants are usually removed by ion exchange, reverse osmosis, microfiltration, precipitation or flocculation. But these methods may be difficult to implement and can be prohibitively expensive in large water volumes, low-metal concentrations and high cleanup standards.

Sunflowers are really good at taking up certain radioactive isotopes. So basically the plant just kind of grows, and as it grows, it’s sucking the radiation out of the soil. Those radioisotopes mimic some of the nutrients that the plant takes up normally. And so the plant really does not distinguish between those radioactive isotopes and some of the nutrients like potassium and calcium that it takes. sunflowers extracted cesium because it's chemically similar to potassium (kalium). Cesium is currently the main troublesome isotope near Fukushima (Iodine is pretty much gone). Sunflowers may also be able to extract other ions from the soil. i

How well the Sunflowers are working to absorb radiation from its environment?

The growth rate of sunflowers is the crux in influencing the rate of radiation absorption.. During peak growing times sunflowers can grow inches in a single day, which likely results in them drawing more water out of the ground, allowing them to concentrate the radioactive materials through deposition in the plant matter at a faster rate than other plant organisms

Sunflowers have shown to be selective in absorbing metal. They were able to absorb heavy metals while leaving others - such as iron -behind. This increased their ability to quickly absorb the radionuclides. And, once they have absorbed the radionuclides,the sunflowers are then stabilized, ashed or vitrified and the resulting radioactive waste is stored in a disposal facility.

Sunflower is also used as bird food, as livestock forage and in some industrial application.

Now you have more or less an idea why I personally find sunflower to be magical and resplendent in saving the environment and lives. Sunflowers are not only beautiful but also special gift from nature. The sunflower is a perfect emblem of an anti nuclear symbol.

Photo credit from khongthe.com/wallpapers/nature/sunflowers-in-the-field

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