Sunflower meaning and symbolism traces back to various ancient cultures. The plant is native to America. There is evidence of sunflower cultivation dating back to 3,000 BC in the Hopi Indian digs.
The sunflower production spread to other tribes moving north and east. From the Mandan Indian tribes in the Dakotas and then into Canada. This caused its symbolism and meaning to evolve as well.
If you’re looking to explore the symbolism and meaning of the sunflower, this post will help you. We’ll discover its various meanings, benefits, and uses. So let’s dive right in!
What does the sunflower symbolise?
The sunflower symbolises devotion, healing, pride, power, ambition, strength and spiritual attainment. The sunflower has the power to help with fertility, health and longevity. Moreover, the sunflower reflects the qualities of the Sun. Alchemists place this flower under the dominion of the Sun. It’s a great Leo birth flower.
The sunflower also evokes a feeling of warmth and heralds the coming of summer. Today, sunflower seeds are still used because of their nutritional properties.
I’ve embarked on a journey through the history and cultural significance of the sunflower.
Within the American heritage, these sun-kissed blooms have woven a divine connection. This continues to captivate my imagination.
Sunflower meaning in Hopi culture
Delving into the heritage of sunflowers, I’ve uncovered the intriguing story of Kuwanlelenta. The goddess of the Hopi Sunflower clan. Her name translates ‘to make beautiful surroundings.’
This reflects the profound role sunflowers played in the landscapes and cultural beliefs.
Sunflowers were a symbol of femininity and womanhood. Moreover, Kuwanlelenta personified fertility and beauty.
During the months of October and November, the maidens performed a customary dance. They would first gather petals from wild sunflowers, then dry and grind them into a yellow powder.
The maidens would apply the powder to their wet faces. They would then dress up in elaborate costumes for the dance. This would make their faces glisten like gold.
They would also wear sunflowers in their hair. This dance was symbolic of an abundant harvest.
Sunflower meaning in Peruvian Culture
In Peru, the sunflower also bears the name Marigold of Peru or Helianthus. The sunflower’s meaning here connects to the sun. The sun as a luminary was significant and worshipped by Peruvians.
Ancient Peru had a temple dedicated to the Sun. The priestesses crowned with pure gold sunflowers. They would also wear them close to their chests and carry them in their hands.
The early Spanish settlers found gold depictions of sunflowers in those sun temples.
Native Americans have used the sunflower plant in many ways. Some of its functions included creating dyes, making ointment for medicinal purposes. Moreover, sunflowers had aesthetic purposes such as hair dressings.
Sunflower meaning in Greek mythology
Drawing from my extensive knowledge of mythology, let’s journey to ancient Greece.
Clytie, a nymph, found herself captivated by none other than the radiant sun god Apollo. Yet, fate had a different path in mind, leading Apollo toward the sea goddess Leucothea.
As a result of her jealousy, Clytie accused Leucothea of being unchaste to her father Camdus. The latter entombed his daughter, which led to her death.
The death of his beloved enraged Apollo. Thus, he abandoned Clytie, and left her in despair and distraught.
Clytie transformed into a Heliothrope or Sunflower which turned her head to the sun in token of her love.
This myth however, has been subject to debate and speculation. One of them being that the sunflower was of Peruvian origin. The introduction of the plant to Europe came from the New World.
Likewise, the sunflower was not recorded during the days that Ovid wrote the story of Clytie. Instead the plant mentioned in Ovid’s tale might have been an old German herb.
From ancient America to Europe
The Spanish settlers that returned from their expeditions introduced the sunflowers to Europe.
They brought back with them the seeds that they planted. Thus, sunflower production started in the North of Spain. Later it moved to the Eastern regions, then to the rest of Europe.
Sunflowers in Christianity are a symbol of God’s love. It’s a symbol of the soul that redirects its thoughts, feelings and energy towards God.
Sunflowers are a personification of the Sun. It represents the season of summer and fecundity. Additionally, the rays of the sun represent healing and positivity.
Sunflower Symbolism in Literature
Sunflowers act as symbols in literature. This can help us to further understand the meaning of the sunflower.
The sunflower is a symbol of loyalty and devotion in the novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by the author L. Frank Baum. In the book, the character portrayed by the scarecrow wears a hat made of sunflowers. Moreover, it had a “face like a sunflower” due to his undying loyalty to his friends.
William Blake, in his poem “Ah, Sunflower” uses the sunflower as a symbol. It was a symbol for spiritual truth and enlightenment. The sunflower faces the sun and yearns for blessings with eternal joy and holy awe.
The book entitled “The Secret of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd features the sunflower. It is a symbol of resilience and perseverance. Rosaleen, the character in the book plants sunflowers. She plants them in the midst of her struggles and trauma. They become a symbol of her strength and determination to overcome adversity.
Sunflower in Art
Sunflowers have been a popular subject in various forms of art throughout history. Their vibrant colors and unique appearance making them a captivating choice for artists.
Vincent van Gogh’s iconic “Sunflowers” series is an example of sunflower-inspired art. The book entitled “The Complete Van Gogh: Paintings, Drawings, Sketches” discusses “Sunflowers” series.
Jan Hulsker discusses how Van Gogh created the series during his time in Arles, France. It conveys the symbolism of sunflowers.
Van Gogh’s use of bold, vivid colors and thick brushstrokes. This captures the sunflower’s essence. It represents the qualities of the sun itself—warmth, vitality, and positivity.
The series also reflects the environment of his Yellow House. Van Gogh’s desire to create a welcoming and inspiring space.
These paintings have become emblematic of the sunflower’s symbolism, signifying devotion and healing. It represent the enduring power of the human spirit. It also serves as a testament to Van Gogh’s own artistic brilliance.
Sunflowers in contemporary art
Sunflowers maintain their cultural significance in contemporary times.
“The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness,” explores the symbolism of the sunflower. The author Simon Wiesenthal particularly explores the flower in the context of forgiveness.
The sunflower has become a powerful metaphor for forgiveness and reconciliation. Wiesenthal exemplifies this in his own experiences as a Holocaust survivor.
Beyond literature, the sunflower’s symbolism extends to music. For example, the song “Sunflower” by Post Malone and Swae Lee. In the song the sunflower represents love and longing.
As an observer of artistic trends, I’ve seen the allure of sunflowers in contemporary culture.
Today, the fashion industry dons sunflowers as a symbol of hope. Moreover, it conveys positivity, and even forgiveness. These vibrant blooms grace clothing and accessories, infusing fashion with their timeless spirit.
Sunflower spiritual meaning
The sunflower has various spiritual meaning. This based on its cultural context and your subjective experience and understanding. Lets explore some of them:
It shows a deep link to the divine. It urges you to follow your spiritual path with passion and joy.
Its yellow petals turn to the sun. This symbolises the seeker’s search for inner light and higher realms.
The sunflower stands tall and follows the sun. It is a reminder to overcome challenges and stay positive, even when things are hard.
Sunflower birth flower
The sunflower is one of birth flower for Leo. The sun rules the Leo zodiac. Leos have big hearts, warmth and friendliness. They act like the sun.
The 5th house is Leo’s natural ruler. It covers self-expression, creativity, and personal goals.
The 5th house also relates to romance, love affairs, and children. Leos are warm-hearted and passionate. They want romance and deep connections.
Leos have charm and magnetism. They draw people to them. Moreover, they are enthusiastic about romantic relationships. They want joy, playfulness, and romance.
Folk Remedies using Sunflower
The sunflower also has folkloric uses. By understanding their uses we can also get an idea of their meaning. The following is a list of sunflower folk remedies.
- cleansing the body and regulating metabolism.
- helps to dissolve kidney stones and remove salt derived from uric acid in the bladder.
- can aid in the treatment of arthritis, arthrosis and osteochondrosis.
- a great addition that helps to fight against cholesterol.
- treat blood pressure related issues.
- prevents and removes various cardiovascular illness.
- provides relief from severe headaches.
- fight against cystitis.
Benefits of Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a great source of minerals. One can use it to combat or prevent various diseases and ailments.
- mitigates the risks of Heart Disease
- aids in the reduction of inflammation. This helps the body to combat various diseases
- contains high antioxidant which prevents cancer
- chemo-preventive compounds found in Sunflower Seeds can delay early phases of cancer development
- contains selenium that can help with selenium deficiency. Moreover, helps with proper functioning of the thyroid
- it can help with various conditions like osteoporosis, cramps and bone loss
- controls blood sugar level which in turn helps with reducing risks of diabetes
- improves Skin health
Sunflowers are easy crops to grow and what makes them gardeners’ favourite flower. Sunflowers need well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight.
Moreover, they also need regular watering to ensure proper growth. Sunflowers are susceptible to pests and diseases. Thus take preventative measures when growing the crop to ensure it is healthy.
The sunflowers come in a wide variety. Each with its own characteristics and history behind them. Let’s see the different types of sunflowers, their characteristics and uses.
The Maximillian Sunflower gets its name from Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied. The prince was an expert naturalist, explorer, and ethnologist. Those flowers bloom in late summer or early autumn.
The flowers are yellow and grow up to 3 m tall. Their leaves are usually long and slender. They are 10 to 30 cm long. The heads of the flowers are between 5 and 7.5 cm in diameter.
They produce yellow flowers that grow up to 3 m tall. Bright yellow ray flowers circle around the yellow central disk of those flowers.
The roots of the Maximilian sunflower are edible. They resemble small potatoes and have a nutty flavour to them. Boil, roast or eat them raw.
Swamp sunflowers or Helianthus Angustifolius, is the cousin of the common Sunflower. This particular type of sunflower prefers damp or moist soil. They flower in early summer.
The stem of the Swap Sunflower usually grows from 50 to 150 cm. The leaves are usually 6 to 20 cm in length. They are slender and covered with hair.
The swamp sunflower is one of the most valuable forage forbs on the long leaf pine-blue stream range. It is high in protein containing 10% at the full leaf stage.
Sungold sunflowers come in two varieties, Teddy Bear and Common Sunflower.
The dwarf variety produces flowers that are “fluffy” and have double yellow petals. They are usually around 10 cm in diameter. They have a green center and grow up to 61 to 91 cm tall.
The giant variety produces flowers that are “fluffy”. They are around 15 to 25 cm in diameter. Theses varieties of sunflowers attract bees, butterflies, and birds. They can grow up to 150 to 180 cm tall.
If you enjoyed this blog don’t miss out on our other blogs flowers that fall under the dominion of the sun.
FAQ on the Sunflower Meaning
Dietz, S. T. (2022) The complete language of flowers the complete language of flowers: A definitive and illustrated history – pocket edition. Wellfleet Press.
Folkard, R. (1884) Plant lore, legends, and lyrics. Embracing the myths, traditions, superstitions, and folk-lore of the plant kingdom. London: S. Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington.
Junius, M. M. (1993) The practical handbook of plant alchemy: Herbalist’S guide to preparing medicinal essences, tinctures and elixirs. Rochester, NY: Inner Traditions Bear and Company.
Deena Bsingh, a UK-born, Mauritius-raised content writer, is a dedicated explorer of the ancient world’s hidden treasures. Armed with classical studies knowledge and a decade of spiritual immersion, Deena delves deep into the wellspring of ancient wisdom. Her illuminating writings on flower meanings and culinary history are imbued with the profound insights she has gathered on her journey. Through her Medium articles, she guides readers on transformative journeys that bridge the gap between ancient cultures and contemporary consciousness, offering a rich tapestry of understanding that endures through time.