Wow! Stunning Sunflowers!
Wow! Lovely Sunflower Fields!
Sunflowers are stunning, and are certainly among the most beautiful and brightest flowers. They are big and striking and remind us of the SUN, a SUN that can be lovingly gazed at and touched. The above pictures are of us, at some lovely Sunflower plantations. These days, Sunflower farming can be seen in several Districts of Telangana. And as we are driving in these regions, the fields full of bright yellow blooming Sunflowers, standing tall on their bright and large green leafy stems, set against an awesome landscape and a clear blue beautiful sky, attract us. They beckon us to stop and spend some memorable time with them.
In my childhood we used to have few Sunflower plants at our house. We used to marvel at the flowers and wonder at the way they always faced the Sun. And in general many people with an open yard in front of their houses grow Sunflowers for the ornamental look it adds to their houses. Surely; the SUN like Sunflowers, brightens a house!
Since many years Sunflowers have become a popular commercial crop in India. Edible oil is the main by-product. It has been established that there are a variety of health benefits associated with the consumption of Sunflower oil. And ever since Sunflower oil is available from trustworthy sources in India, we have switched over to this oil for all our cooking needs. I am told that Telangana cultivates Sunflower in about 2 Lakh hectares with a yield of about 650 Kg/ha. Under very good water availability conditions it is said that the yield can go up to 1,000 Kg/ha and with soil enriching methods like crop rotation etc., the yield can further go up to 1,500 Kg/ha. The farmers would certainly benefit if the various Government departments that exist for improving irrigation and agriculture would put more efforts in assisting and educating the Sunflower farmers in improving the yield.
A little research on internet tells me many interesting facts about Sunflower. The name Sunflower is an exact translation of the flower’s Greek name, ‘Helianthus’. In Greek ‘Helios’ means Sun and ‘Anthos’ means flower and hence Helianthus and Sunflower in English. And according to Greek mythology there are a few interesting stories providing the origin of Sunflower. And all these stories are about a beautiful girl Clytie and the Sun God Apollo.
One story goes that a water-nymph called Clytie fell in love with the Sun God Apollo. She was so much in love that she would sit on the ground and stare at the Sun all day long. And as the Sun God never cared to notice her, the other Gods took pity on her and turned her into a flower (Sunflower). Her legs became the Sunflower’s stem, her face became the flower and her golden hair the petals. And even now, Clytie in the form of Sunflower continues to watch her beloved Sun God’s movements throughout the day, from Sunrise to Sunset.
Another tale has a slight twist, Clytie was so much in love with Apollo the Sun God that she would sit on the ground and stare up at the Sun all day long though Apollo never returned her love. She sat all day long, upon the cold ground, following the path of the Sun for nine days, without any food and drink. She became weak and her limbs rooted into the ground, while her face became the flower and she continued to follow the course of the Sun.
Yet another story tells that while Clytie was in love with Apollo, Apollo scorned her love in favor of the love of another Leucothoe, the daughter of Orchamus the King of Persia. Clytie was zealous and told King Orchamus of the love affair between his daughter and Apollo and as punishment Orchamus buried his daughter alive. Apollo hated Clytie even more for this. Disappointed and depressed Clytie kept staring at the Sun God until her end and then she became a plant and Sunflower whose head turns to follow the Sun every day.