HPPR hosts & contributors
Growing on the High Plains Episode
Thu February 14, 2013
I'll Miss Fields of Gold
Sometime back I talked about our return to dryland farming. One of the things I will miss with this change is being surrounded by fields of gold. Some days, I would journey into the fields to be surrounded by eye-level orbs of sunlight. I would stand quietly waiting for the sound of munchkins following the yellow brick road. At the end of the growing season, I have been known to emerge with an arm full of heavy heads to hang in the evergreens to provide a feast for winter residents.
In the late 1800s, a Kansas state lawmaker attended an out-of-state rodeo, and noticed that other Kansans were sporting sunflowers to identify themselves as being from "the Sunflower State." This inspired George Morehouse, and when he returned home, he started legislation to make the sunflower the state's official flower. In 1903, the sunflower became the official state flower of Kansas. In their legislation, lawmakers touted the sunflower as a symbol of the state's "frontier days, winding trails, pathless prairies."
There are more than 60 species of sunflowers. The Native Sunflower grows to 15 feet tall with flower heads up to 2 feet in diameter. One plant can produce over 1,000 seeds. The seeds are rich in protein and yield quality vegetable oil. There are conflicting reports about the flower turning its head to face the sun throughout the day. Some of my research agrees with that statement- some does not. If you can answer that question for once and for all, email me. I'd love to hear from you.