The sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is an annual plant native to the Americas. It possesses a large inflorescence (flowering head). The sunflower is named after its huge, fiery blooms, whose shape and image are often used to depict the sun. It has a rough, hairy stem, broad, coarsely toothed, rough leaves and circular heads of flowers. The heads consist of many individual flowers which mature into seeds, often in the hundreds, on a receptacle base. From the Americas, sunflower seeds were brought to Europe in the 16th century, where, along with sunflower oil, they became a widespread cooking ingredient. Leaves of the sunflower can be used as cattle feed, while the stems contain a fibre which may be used in paper production.
The flower petals within the sunflower's cluster are always in a a spiral pattern. Generally, each floret is oriented toward the next by approximately the golden angle, 137.5°, producing a pattern of interconnecting spirals, where the number of left spirals and the number of right spirals are successive Fibonacci numbers.
Sunflowers are my favourite flower, and have been since I was a teenager. They make me smile when I see them; the yellow petals just seem to glow and I can pick them out from a mile away. There's just something about them that is so beautiful, and seeing one actually makes me happy (as corny as that might sound!). Roses schmoses, I would rather have a bunch of sunflowers any day!