The Ultimate Guide to Sunflower Meaning: Symbolism, Benefits and More

Sunflower meaning and symbolism can be traced back to various ancient cultures. The plant is native to America, and there is evidence of sunflower cultivation dating back to 3,000 BC in the Hopi Indian digs.

As sunflower production spread to other tribes moving north and east into the Mandan Indian tribes in the Dakotas and then into Canada, its symbolism and meaning evolved as well.

If you’re looking to explore the symbolism and meaning of the sunflower, this post will help you discover its various meanings, benefits, and uses. So let’s dive right in!

What does the Sunflower mean?

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 as alchemists place this flower under the dominion of the Sun.

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.

Sunflower Meaning through mythology

Sunflowers were associated with divinity in ancient American culture. By understanding how those ancient cultures associated and personified the sunflower we can have a better picture of its link to divinity.

Sunflower meaning in Hopi culture

Kuwanlelenta was the goddess of the Hopi Sunflower clan. Her name means “to make beautiful surroundings.”

Sunflowers were considered symbols 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 which 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. A sunflower’s meaning here was directly connected 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 were crowned with pure gold sunflowers. They would also wear them close to their chests and carry them in their hands.

Gold depictions of sunflowers were found in those sun temples by the early Spanish settlers.

Native Americans have used the sunflower plant in numerous ways. Some of its functions included creating dyes, making ointment for medicinal purposes and also for aesthetic purposes such as hair dressings.

woman in sunflower field

From ancient America to Europe

The Spanish settlers that returned from their expeditions to the new world introduced the sunflowers to Europe.

They brought back with them the seeds that they planted. Therefore, sunflower production started in the North of Spain and 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 meaning in Greek mythology

In Greek mythology the Nymph Clytie was enamoured with the sun god Apollo. However, the nymph was forsaken for Leucothea or Ino (sea goddess).

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.

Apollow was enraged because of the death of his beloved, so he abandoned Clytie, and left her in despair and distraught.

Clytie was 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 and unknown to Europe until the plant was introduced from the New World.

Likewise the plant 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.

Leo birth flower

If you’re looking to gift the Sunflowers, it will make the perfect gift for those born under the sign of Leo.

The ruler of the Leo zodiac is the sun. Leos are known for their big hearts, warmth and a very friendly nature. Indeed they personify the qualities of the sun.

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 folk remedies linked to sunflowers.

  • 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.
sunflower chart meaning

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 which 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 and help 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

Sunflower Symbolism in Literature

Sunflowers have been used as symbols in literature, which can also help us 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 and also has a “face like a sunflower” due to his undying loyalty to his friends.

William Blake uses the sunflower as a symbol of spiritual truth and enlightenment in his poem “Ah, Sunflower.” The sunflower is described as facing the sun and yearning to be blessed with eternal joy and holy awe.

In the book entitled “The Secret of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd, the sunflower symbolises resilience as well as perseverance. Rosaleen, the character in the book plants sunflowers in the midst of her struggles and trauma. They become a symbol of her strength and determination to overcome adversity.

Sunflower Cultivation

Sunflowers are easy crops to grow and this is exactly what makes them gardeners’ favourite flower. Sunflowers require well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. Moreover, they also require regular watering to ensure proper growth. Sunflowers are susceptible to pests and diseases, therefore it is recommended to take preventative measures when growing the crop to ensure it is healthy.

Sunflower field

Sunflowers varieties

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.

Maximilian sunflower

The Maximillian Sunflower is named after the expert Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied. 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 slightly nutty flavour to them. They can be boiled, roasted or eaten raw.


Swamp sunflowers

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

Sungold sunflowers come in two varieties, Dwarf or Teddy Bear and Giant or 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. Bees, butterflies, and birds are attracted to these types of flowers. They can grow up to 150 to 180 cm tall.

FAQ on the Sunflower Meaning

You may be interested in our category of flowers that fall under the dominion of the sun as well if you enjoy our blog on 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.

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