Finding the Sun

They Follow the Sun!!!

The first real cold front of the season has finally rolled through the area, meaning we no longer have to suffer in 90 degree or more heat,  and I thought now would be a good time to say goodbye to summer.

During my exploration of the local sunflower field this summer,  I couldn’t help but notice that all the sunflowers were facing the same direction.  It was a curious sight and gave an impression that the entire field was “looking” at something.   After a little research at The Naked Scientists website , I had my answer.

I discovered that the sunflower tracks the sun through the sky during the day. Since the flower has no muscles, if manages to do this by growing cells in the stem on the eastern part in the morning, facing the sun, and the western part in the afternoon, following the sun.  By the end of the day the stem, once re-balanced, repeats the process in the morning.  This gives it the appearance that it follows the path of the sun. This odd behavior helps insects.  Facing the sun with those large flower heads causes the flowers and the seed area to warm up quicker than the surrounding plant.  Insects depend on this warmth to help regulate their body temperature and thus become more active.  So, they visit the flower more often.  Being more active on the flower means a greater chance of the flower being pollinated and reproducing.  It also means you get great fine art!  I love it when everyone wins.

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