Young sunflowers follow the sun, a behavior known as heliotropism, but once they mature, they face east to attract pollinators and no longer track the sun’s movement throughout the day.
Sunflowers are one of the most recognizable and beloved flowers in the world.
They are known for their bright yellow petals and their ability to grow to towering heights.
One of the most fascinating things about sunflowers is their tendency to follow the sun.
But do sunflowers always follow the sun? And why do they do it?
In this article, we will explore the science behind sunflowers and their relationship with the sun.
The Myth of Sunflowers Always Following the Sun
Although popular culture has embraced the myth that sunflowers always follow the sun, this is inaccurate.
Only young flowers “move” to face it throughout the day.
Once they reach maturity, they stop sun-tracking—their blooms forever turned eastward.
As sunflowers mature, this process comes to a halt.
Overall growth slows, and the flower’s circadian clock reacts most intensely to the sun’s early morning rays than those later.
The Science of Sunflowers and the Sun
Sunflowers are known for their ability to follow the sun, a phenomenon known as heliotropism.
This big yellow flower displays a natural plant behavior called heliotropism, which to put simply is the growth or movement of plants in response to the direction of the sun.
Young sunflowers do follow the sun, their yellow blossoms pivoting to track the golden star on its orbit from morning to night.
Before floral development, however, elongating vegetative stems move their large and showy flowering heads to face east, positioned toward the rising Sun.
The reason why sunflowers face east is that it helps them reproduce more efficiently by attracting more bees and producing more offspring.
Additionally, sunflowers have an internal circadian clock that controls their sun-tracking behavior.
This clock ensures that the plant reacts more strongly to light early in the morning than in the afternoon or evening, so it gradually stops moving westward during the day.
The Mystery of Sunflowers
The mystery of why sunflowers turn to follow the sun has been solved by scientists.
Young sunflowers move their blooms to always face the sun over the course of a day.
Once sunflowers reach maturity, they stop tracking the sun and only face east.
The researchers tied plants up so they couldn’t move or turned them away from the sun – and they found those flowers eventually had “decreased biomass and less leave area” than flowers that could move with the sun.
A young sunflower plant not only tracks the sun during the day but also reorients at night in anticipation of dawn.
Fun Facts About Sunflowers
- Sunflowers resemble miniature suns.
- Sunflowers have their own biological clocks which help them to follow the sun as it moves from east to west during the day, and then move back to their original position at night.
- The tallest sunflower ever recorded was 30 feet.
- Sunflowers are considered a very positive flower and are often sent to convey emotions like happiness, warmth, luck, adoration, and friendship.
Before You Go
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They always have sales and discounts on nursery stock, well worth your time checking them out.
You can find them here, NatureHills.com.
Also, I have other articles about sunflowers you can check out if your interested.
I’ll leave links to them below.