June to August
The Sunflower has been used as food by American Indians for over 3,000 years.
Sunflower oil, made from sunflower seeds, is the third most common cooking oil.
In the late 1800’s, a Kansas state lawmaker noticed Kansans wearing sunflowers to identify themselves as being from “the Sunflower State”. Inspired by this, George Morehouse filed legislation to make the Sunflower the state’s official floral emblem.
In 1903, the wild Sunflower became the official state flower of Kansas. (Interestingly, less than a decade earlier, lawmakers had unsuccessfully called for the eradication of the “noxious weed.”) In their legislation, lawmakers praised the Sunflower as a symbol of the state’s “frontier days, winding trails, pathless prairies” as well as the state’s present and future.
Sunflowers continue to flourish across the state today where they grow in the wild as well as in suburban yards and commercial farms. Each summer, fields of wild Sunflowers spring up along roadsides in western Kansas. The state flower can grow quite tall, reaching heights up to nine feet. With their leggy stalks, wide round heads and cheery radiant faces, these plants are a photographer’s favorite. Drivers can often be seen pulling over to capture their natural charm.
While seemingly a simple flower, the Sunflower is actually made up of many flowers arranged in precise symmetrical patterns. The head of the flower consists of florets, closely clumped together. Its outer flowers come in red, orange, maroon and the familiar yellow color. Its inner flowers called disc florets, grow inside the sunflower’s disc in interconnecting spiral patterns. These florets mature into what many call sunflower seeds. The plant’s true seeds are located inside the husks of these fruits.
Not only is the Kansas state flower attractive, but it is also a valuable resource. The Sunflower’s oil is used in cooking and the seeds are used in breads, salads, and as a snack food. In recent years, Sunflowers have also been grown to harvest their oil for use as an alternative biodiesel fuel. With such versatile uses, it’s easy to see why Kansans continue to be proud of their state flower!
3 - 10