Sunflowers :: October Nature Study

The sunflower is a composite flower and it is fascinating to read about it in the Handbook of Nature Study book. You can find the pages on this garden flower on pages 574 to 578. You can read the book online for free if you don't have a copy here. 

We spent the weekend at our friends' house outside of town, house sitting for them. It was a wonderful weekend and I will be sharing more photos with you in other blog posts. 

There were a few sunflowers still standing, some near the house and others in the garden. I took many photos and when we came back home, I read about the sunflower in the book and online.  

This was a nature study I did on my own. Sometimes, I find it is only me observing nature and then reading more about whatever I discovered. I think this is just fine, and I like to learn on my own as much as sharing learning with my children. 

I searched Barb's blog for entries on sunflowers. She has many! One of my favourites is this one: Late Summer Sunflower Study. I didn't ask my friend to take one of the flowers home to dissect. I will ask soon, as I think Celeste would really enjoy doing that. 

I found this entry from Wikipedia very interesting and clear. My son has been fascinated by Fibonacci sequence for a long time now and I shared this with him. 

"What is usually called the "flower" on a mature sunflower is actually a "flower head" (also known as a "composite flower") of numerous florets (small flowers) crowded together. The outer petal-bearing florets (ray florets) are sterile and can be yellow, red, orange, or other colors. The florets inside the circular head are called disc florets, which mature into seeds

The flower petals within the sunflower's cluster are always in a spiral pattern. Generally, each floret is oriented toward the next by approximately the golden angle, 137.5°, producing a pattern of interconnecting spirals, where the number of left spirals and the number of right spirals are successive Fibonacci numbers. Typically, there are 34 spirals in one direction and 55 in the other; on a very large sunflower there could be 89 in one direction and 144 in the other. This pattern produces the most efficient packing of seeds within the flower head."

A few sunflowers grew near the house, under a bird feeder. My friend told me that she hadn't planted these, they just came along from the bird seeds being dropped on the ground. The blue jays visited almost every day we were there. 

They stayed for about five to ten minutes, ate the seeds straight from the sunflowers and then flew on. 

One last photo, I really love the orange sunflowers. Their colours are so vibrant. 

I am linking this post to the Outdoor Hour Challenge Carnival hosted by Barb at Handbook of Nature Study. 


  1. Amazing images of the sunflowers! I especially love the one with the blue jays nibbling the seeds. :)

  2. We had volunteers, too! Nice pictures!


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