Red Butte Photo of the Day September 22, 2009

Submitted September 22, 2009 at 8:25 AM

Common Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

Common sunflower is a robust annual that grows from 1 1/2 to over 8 feet tall. The flower heads can grow up to 5 inches across. It is the state flower of Kansas.

The name of this flower in Spanish means "Looks at the Sun" The flower heads follow the sun each day, facing eastward in the morning and westward at sunset. It has been cultivated in Central North America since pre-Columbian times. A yellow dye was obtained from its flowers, and a black or sometimes blue dye from its seeds.

Native Americans made a flour out of the ground seeds and used its oil for cooking and as a hair dressing.

Many varieties of the common sunflower have been developed in the United States and Eurasia; some with one enormous head that tops a 15 foot stalk, and others with red or maroon ray flowers.

In Utah, the Common Sunflower is an important food source for migrating populations of Mourning Dove as well as many species of sparrows and finch.

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