Annual of the Week: Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus).

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Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is one of the most striking annual flowers in our landscapes, flower gardens, and agricultural fields.  The scientific name for the genus comes from the Greek helios which means "sun" and anthos which means "flower."

 

Sunflower

 

Sunflowers belong to the Asteraceae family (Aster Family).  The family was once descriptively named Compositae for the "composite" flowers produced by family members.  What appears to be a single flower is actually a cluster (a composite) of small flowers.  The small flowers in the center are called "disc flowers" and are confined to the "sun disk."  These flowers produce the seed.  The bright yellow to orangish-yellow petals surrounding the sun disk are strap-shaped sterile flowers and are sometimes called "ray flowers."  By the way, aster means "star" in Greek

 

Sunflower

 

Sunflower

 

Owing to their large size, common sunflowers provide a perfect presentation of the overall floral structure.  Unfortunately, sunflower blooms are relatively short-lived.  However, I visited a beautiful field of sunflowers yesterday that is open to the public and is currently in peak bloom.  The multi-acre field is planted annually for public display on property owned by the Tecumseh Land Trust located just north of Yellow Springs, OH, on US Route 68.  The sunflower field is not too far south of the I-70 exit for Rt. 68.  This display is well worth a visit!  For safety reasons, a parking lot is located just off Rt. 68.

 

Tecumseh Land Trust

 

Tecumseh Land Trust

 

 

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