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Friday, September 9, 2011

Dwarf Sunspot Sunflower

I received a gift of a Dwarf Sunspot Sunflower; the first sunflower I've ever had!  I don't know much about sunflowers, other than the obvious, that there are myriad varieties and different sizes of these yellow-petalled wonders.  Doing research netted three intriguing facts.

Heliotropism - There is a common misconception that sunflowers track the sun.  Mature flower heads typically face east and do not move.  The leaves and buds of young sunflowers do exhibit heliotropism (sun turning).  Their orientation turns from east to west during the course of a day.

Spiral Florets - The florets within the sunflower's cluster are arranged in a spiral pattern.  Generally, each floret is oriented toward the next by approximately the golden angle, 137.5 degrees, providing a pattern of interconnecting spirals, where the number of left spirals and the number of right spirals are successive Fibonacci numbers.  Typically, there are 34 spirals in one direction and 55 in the other.  This pattern produces the most effective packing of seeds within the flower head.

This pattern appears in many other places in nature, such as branching in trees, arrangements of leaves on a stem, the fruit spouts of a pineapple, for example.

In mathematics, the Fibonacci numbers are numbers in the following integer sequence:  0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144....   The first two Fibonacci numbers are 0 and 1, and each of the subsequent numbers is the sum of the previous two.

Guerrilla Gardening - International Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day is May 1.  It is a day when guerrilla gardeners around the world plant sunflowers in their neighbourhoods, typically in neglected public spaces.  Sounds like fun!

I am grateful for the cheerful sunny flower I received and for the sunflower facts I found.  I'm planting my gift in an oak barrel in my yard, so I can enjoy it outside and it can get the sun it needs!  We'll both be content.

If you'd like more information, you can go to other websites for additional details and pictures by clicking on the words in red.  All photos are mine.

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