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The Happy Flower

Sunflowers are blooming everywhere around here, in fact, The National Garden Bureau designated 2021 the Year of the Sunflower. They are symbolic in the Chinese culture of good luck, lasting happiness, love, loyalty, and longevity.

Sunflowers come in a variety of colors, sizes, and fullness. The 70 cultivars of sunflowers belong to three groups—giant sunflowers, dwarf sunflowers, and colored sunflowers. The largest sunflower varieties grow to more than 16 feet in height and some have flower heads as large as more than 12 inches in diameter. Fast growing, most varieties mature in only 80 to 95 days. The happy flower blooms in shades of yellow, orange, and red attracting birds, bees, and butterflies.

Sunflowers are heliotropes, moving with the sun as they begin the day facing east and progress to the west along with the sun and then back east again. They are one of the few plants that are heat-tolerant and resistant to pests.

The tall plants with coarse, furry stems are native to North America. They’re predominantly cultivated as a food source. Each flower produces around 1,000 seeds to be used as an ingredient in salads, smoothies, and breads, and toasted as a snack as well as used as bird feed. Ground into an oil, sunflower oil is a less expensive than olive oil. 

Sunflower seeds are helpful in reducing cholesterol, rich in protein and healthy fats, and a source of antioxidants. The oil is a source of vitamin E and can promote hair growth and soothe sensitive or irritated skin.

Sunflowers are popular in bouquets because we can’t help but smile when seeing their sunny faces. And after providing happiness, when the petals have dropped, the heads can be placed outside for birds to enjoy the seeds or dried out and used as scrubbers.

*Check out, “Our Planet’s Health and Well-Being” on my other blog.

*I’ve written three books for you, my caregiver friends: Inspired Caregiving, The Alzheimer’s Spouse, and Navigating Alzheimer’s.

*Photos taken at Tom’s Farm Market, Huntley, IL.

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