"Sunflower" is one in a set of 4 flowers owned by my cousin Dee. Each is 5" (12.7 cm) square gallery wrapped oil painted on canvas. The collection also includes "Purple Shasta", "Hibiscus", and "New Rose".
The sunflower is native to North America, but commercialization took place in Russia, only recently to return as a cultivated crop. It was the American Indian who are responsible for the single-headed plant. Recently, the sunflower has become well know for it's many uses. The seeds, which when roasted, are very popular and nourishing. The sunflower is very beneficial in the prevention of cancer, reducing the risk for heart disease, supporting thyroid function, balancing blood sugar levels and helping to prevent diabetes. Sunflowers lure beneficial insects into fruit and vegetable gardens and provide a healthy source of nectar and pollen for the bees. They are an important source of edible oil, and after the oil is extracted, the remaining seed cake is given to livestock, as food. It is also used in the manufacture of cosmetics and skin products. In the U.S., peanuts are grown from the northern plains of the Dakotas to the panhandle of Texas. National Sunflower Association is a great source of information.
In the Panhandle of Texas sunflower farms are common and easy to access. If one is driving through this area in the later summer, ask anyone where the sunflower fields are. I have seen many cars parked along the road, with people walking into the fields to take pictures. Many will stay for hours, watching the sunflowers. Most people know that the flower, also known as the head, follows the sun. It is amazing to watch. However, most people do not know the reason this happens. Inside the head of the flower are motor cells which move the head so that it continuously follows the sun. This process is called Heliotropism. The sunflower is not the only plant with these motor cells. YouTube videos are available to watch this process in time lapse.