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Flickr photo of the day: A sunflower by any other name

Compass

Is there any question why it’s called a sunflower? When 18th-century Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus began giving plants, animals and minerals official “Latin” names the sunflower, helianthus annuus, must have been a no-brainer. “Helio” comes from Greek for sun and “anthus” meaning “having flowers.” “Annuus” means it’s seasonal.

A common misconception about the sunflower: it tracks the movement of the sun. It does and it doesn’t; as a little bud it does exhibit heliotropism (following the sun) but as a mature plant it just points in one direction.

Old wives’ tales abound: “Sunflower oil will protect virginity.” No way. “Eating Sunflower seeds will aid conception.” No, but it’s a healthy snack.

Photo by Carla Luma.

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