A nymph in love, or an Inca sun god? You decide!
Ah, the sunflower! It’s a humble plant whose mythology spans that globe! My personal favorite sunflower myth is the story of Clytie, a nymph who was in love with the sun god, Apollo. For a while, they were puppy-love-adorable, until Apollo fell in love with someone else. Clytie got a little pissed off, told Lover #2’s dad, and ultimately ended up dead. It’s got all the hallmarks of a soap opera, without the excess pancake make up, plus, it has a happy ending- Apollo turned Clytie into a sunflower, and she now spends every day watching his chariot move across the sky (the chariot being the sun. you got that, right?). (1)
There’s a tiny issue with my favorite myth. The main one is that sunflowers, and indeed all members of the Helianthus genus are native to the American continents, and weren’t transplanted to Europe until around the 1500s. (2) More likely is that the story used “sunflower” to describe another flower with similar sun-tracking behavior. But that’s a whole other bag of botany that we are not going to be talking about today. Today, it’s all about the sunflower.
Which, incidentally, does follow the path of the sun each day, at least before the flowers get too big and cumbersome. (3)
Clearly, there was some time-bending nonsense since sunflowers are indigenous to the American continents, not to Greece. Photo by VisionPic .net on Pexels.com
Sunflowers are currently grown around the world as a food-and-fuel crop, with Ukraine and Russia coming in as the two most prolific growers in the entire world. And all it really needs to grow is sun and regular watering. Its living requirements are so ambivalent, that sunflowers have intentionally been planted in places like Chornobyl, to pull the radiation out of the soil. (4) (5) (6)
That’s right. You heard me. This plant is so hardcore that it can decontaminate the ultimate earth contaminants and still thrive.
Sunflower seeds, where all the magic hides!
It’s not the Witcher-level ability to thrive in hostile situations that makes this flower so amazing. Oh, no. It’s the sunflower seeds themselves! The oil hiding inside that stripey black shell has one of the highest concentrations of naturally occurring vitamin E and is loaded with Omega fatty acids! The seed oil is comprised of over 50% oleic acid (a type of Omega-6 fatty acid), and at least 30% linoleic acid (a type of Omega-9 fatty acid). (7)
When it comes to dry, dehydrated, and sensitive skin types, the vitamin E and oleic acid concentrations found in sunflower seed oil make it a stellar option! They work together to deeply condition the skin, repair damage, and protect the skin from losing too much water. It’s the super special ingredient that makes our Cleopatra products so special, and is what makes the Egyptian Cucumber Quench Cream truly shine!!
Cooling and hydrating, it’s the sunflower seed oil in our Egyptian Cucumber Quench Cream that leaves the skin feeling silky and smooth!
As an added bonus, sunflower plants are great for the environment, and for farming! Besides being radioactive vacuum cleaners, they also help to draw nutrients up from deep in the soil, helping to minimize stripping the soil for all nutrients. The oil has expansive uses beyond just co
smetic- it is a cheaper and more efficient cooking replacement for olive oil, with similar benefits (if not similar taste), and as biodiesel! (8) Sunflowers even produce a latex that has been used as a hypoallergenic alternative to traditional rubber! (9)
Look at that happy flower!!! Photo by Max Andrey on Pexels.com
If all of that doesn’t make them awesome, few flowers can evoke a smile or brighten a day quite like a sunflower.
RESOURCES (Where did I get this information, though?)
GreekMythology.com. (2018, October 31). Clytie – Greek Mythology. Greek Mythology. Retrieved July 19, 2022, from
Common sunflower. (2022, July 22). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_sunflower
Atamian, H. S., Creux, N. M., Brown, E. A., Garner, A. G., Blackman, B. K., & Harmer, S. L. (2016). Circadian regulation of sunflower heliotropism, floral orientation, and pollinator visits. Science, 353(6299), 587–590. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aaf9793
Adler, T. (1996, July 20). Botanical cleanup crews: using plants to tackle polluted water and soil – phytoremediation | Science News | Find Articles at BNET. Science News. Retrieved July 19, 2022, from https://web.archive.org/web/20110715211727/http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1200/is_n3_v150/ai_18518620/?tag=content;col1
Slodkowski, A. Y. N. (2011, August 19). Sunflowers melt Fukushima’s nuclear “snow.” U.S. Retrieved July 19, 2022, from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-disaster-sunflowers-idUSTRE77I0PG20110819
Gellerman, B. (2011, August 17). Sunflowers used to clean up radiation. Japan Today. Retrieved July 19, 2022, from https://japantoday.com/category/national/sunflowers-used-to-clean-up-radiation
Sunflower oil. (2022, July 3). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunflower_oil#Composition
Colorado State University, Kansas State University. Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, Meyer, R., Colorado State University, & Kansas State University. Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service. (1999). High Plains Sunflower Production Handbook. Academic Service.
K., C., C.H., P., D.J., R., N., D., C.M., M., & M., W. (2007). The potential for sunflower as a rubber-producing crop for the United States. Helia, 30(46), 157–166. https://doi.org/10.2298/hel0746157c