Sunflowers in France
The word for sunflowers in France is TOURNESOLS. It’s easy to see where the name comes from since tourner is to turn and sol is for sun. Growing 5 – 12 feet tall the flowers face east when fully grown – although myth has it that their face always the sun. However, young sunflowers do move east to west during the day as they are growing so it is not a total myth.
Wild sunflowers are native to the Americas. Native Americans domesticated the plant and the seeds were brought to Europe in the 16th century. So much to my surprise, sunflowers in France have not always been one of their agricultural crops.
Let’s take a closer look at those beautiful, sometimes plate-size, flowers. Each flower head consists of 1000 -2000 individual flower heads. That means up to 2000 seeds per flower. I have consumed so many sunflower seeds in my lifetime it makes me wonder just how many “sunflowers” I have consumed? In addition, I am now wondering how many “flowers” are in every bag of seeds that you buy?
Sunflowers in France as a crop
Every part of the flower is useful. There is nothing to waste with a sunflower. While growing they are beautiful to look at and later the leaves can be used as cattle feed.
Seeds (have the shell on) and seed kernels (the part inside the shell) can be eaten or used for cooking and for extracting oil. Like most agricultural crops the fields are rotated. So if you have a special area for viewing these majestic giants keep in mind that they will not be found in the same fields two years in row.
Native Americans ground the seed kernels into flour and this is still done in Germany for use in breads. If you have a coffee grinder you can grind the kernels yourself to add to pancakes and muffins. Grind your own sunflowers in small food processors but only in short bursts unless you want to create sunflower seed butter! I frequently add whole kernels to whole wheat bread.
Are the kernels good for you? YES! Besides lifting your spirit with their beauty, they contain B-complex vitamins, vitamin E, folic acid and minerals such as phosphorous, iron, and selenium.
Sunflowers in France- images
Do I have a passion for photographing sunflowers? Yes, and I hope you enjoy each of these photos from France.
You will note a difference in color of the sunflowers. Those with the pure lemony yellow color with soft green leaves and rolling hills in the background were in the southern part of Burgundy Region while the others were in the Poitou-Charentes Region. The Poitou-Charentes was particularly hot that year. As a result the sunflowers appeared a bit stressed looking. Yet when we were in the Burgundy Region the year before the weather was cool enough for a light jacket most mornings and evenings so the sunflowers were lush and green!