Our Lives are Sunflowers

This week’s blog was written by Melinda J., a Bucktails alumni. Melinda has been interested in nature throughout her life, which is why she attended the Wildlife Leadership Academy. She enjoys watching shows, reading books, and learning. Eventually, she would like to find a career in STEM.

A common misconception regarding sunflowers is that they follow the sun as it travels across the sky, but only young sunflowers exhibit this behavior also known as heliotropism. Once they mature, sunflowers continue to face east throughout the day, but why?

A bee sitting on a sunflower

When sunflowers are young, they develop a circadian rhythm, which explains their behavioral patterns each day. As the sun rises from the east, the eastern side of sunflowers grows more, making them turn toward the sun. The opposite occurs at night; sunflowers elongate to the west to watch the sunset before turning back to the east by morning. By growing with the light, sunflowers can grow bigger than if they faced one direction.

A field of sunflowers facing east

Eventually, they grow slower and cease turning with the sun. Facing east allows them to stay warmer throughout the day, which attracts more bees for pollination. Mature sunflowers respond better to light during the morning, leaving them facing eastward for the rest of their lives. The lives of sunflowers are quite similar to our human lives. As children, we rely on family, teachers, mentors, and friends to guide us through life in order to help us evolve into better people. We often develop similar traits or interests as our role-models, which ultimately lead us to our own path. Eventually, you stop depending on others and mature into an independent person. Every once in a while, you need a friend or a parent to help you through, but you continue to face one direction, your own. You are no longer a little plant, stretching its neck to follow the sun, but a mature sunflower, standing tall.

The photos used in this blog belong to the author.