Sunflowers: Summer Magic on a Stem
As summer stretches on, we might be more focused on how to stay safe in the heat than on lifting our spirits. Lucky for us, the sunflower is here to remind us that the season holds more than sweat and mosquitoes! These large, bright yellow blooms stand tall in the blazing sun as a symbol of joy and confidence.
The sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is native to the Americas, and has been cultivated in Europe for centuries. Greek mythology tells the story of a maiden, madly in love with the sun god Apollo, who followed his daily path across the sky. After years of seeing her pine away, another god turned the young woman into a sunflower. For ancient peoples, this explained why every young sunflower turns its face toward the sun.
Wherever they are cultivated, sunflowers symbolize any deity associated with the sun, as well as the period from Litha (summer solstice, June 21) to Lughnasadh (first harvest, August 1). Throughout their blooming season, vibrant yellow petals attract pollinators like bees and butterflies - an important attribute for the health of regional plants of all kinds.
From the sacred geometry of its center to its abundant production of edible seeds, sunflowers are surrounded by magical lore and meaning. They’re often found on summer altars and garlands, and are said to bring good luck when planted in the garden outside a home.
But that’s only the beginning.
A Flower That’s Good For You
Sunflowers have been recognized since early times as a useful, profitable crop that can help bring abundance and good health in many ways. Every part is edible, from the petals all the way down to the roots.
Today, sunflowers are the the fourth most-planted crop on earth, used mostly to create cooking oil, as well as seeds for eating and cooking. Seeds and sprouts are high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals considered a part of good nutrition. Research also shows that seeds and oil may help control blood sugar, blood pressure, and inflammation; prevent gastric damage; and assist in healing clinical wounds.
How can you bring more sunflower into your daily habits?
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