Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. It’s what the sunflowers do. – Helen Keller
Sunflowers are sacred to many different Gods and Goddesses. Adored by everyone from Apollo to Baba Yaga to Oshun to Incan priestesses, the love of this flower is worldwide. There is the legend of Helios and Clytie. The University of Melbourne website shares the following version of the story:
“Before scientists studied a plant’s internal clock, the Greek myth of Clytie and Helios was used to explain their movements. Clytie was a water nymph who fell madly in love with Helios, the sun god. But Helios had eyes for another woman and ignored Clytie. Full of unrequited love, Clytie would watch Helios race his chariot across the sky. She didn’t eat or drink and after nine days of watching him cross the sky, she became rooted to the ground and transformed into a sunflower.”
This story explains a Sunflowers delightful tendency to turn with the sun throughout the day before its blossoms are fully opened. Turning is only one of the delightful features that this flower exhibits in the garden. Of particular interest to me is the fact that these plants will clean the soil of toxic components like arsenic. Maybe this is one reason it is so popular in urban settings. Sunflowers are native to North and South America, and very easy to grow. Several varieties are both hear and/or drought tolerant. They come in a variety of sizes and a range of colors mostly in the orange and yellow family.
Folklore and Facts about Sunflowers
- Some Indigenous North Americans view Sunflowers as a symbol of courage.
- Sunflowers are referred to as the fourth sister of the Three Sisters corn, bean, and squash.
- Putting these plants in your yard is said to attract luck.
- Many Asian philosophies equate sunflowers with a long life, good fortune, and vitality.
- Give them on your third anniversary to symbolize loyalty and adoration.
- Eating the seeds are said to make one fertile.
- Leaving a bowl of seeds on a new grave is said to help the deceased journey successfully to the afterlife.
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