Eyes Wide Open on a Sunny Day

My name is Helianthus annuus. For those of you trained in neither Latin nor botanical naming — call me Sunflower.

My family has lived in the land of Missouri for generations — centuries actually – perhaps a millennia. The human residents have cultivated our family along side corn and squash from the time of the great Mound builders.

I remain a commercial crop in the United States. (And other portions of the world also.) Humans press my seeds for important oil. Feed me to domestic animals. And snack on roasted, salted seeds at baseball games.

Plant me in a sunny spot after the frost has left the ground and watch me grow. If conditions are good, and I’ve had tall parents, I’ll grow fast to be taller than the average man. Even me, in the lovely portrait below, as the shortest of a trio, grew a full five foot of stem.

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