The Meaning of Sunflower: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the meaning of the sunflower? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the sunflower flower, including its meaning, usage, origin, and more!

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What does the sunflower mean?

According to FTD, the sunflower is a part of the genus Helianthus and known as the Helianthus annuus, which is made from two Greek words – helios, which means Sun, and anthos, which means flower. There is an ancient Greek myth that is the explanation of why the sunflower turns toward the sun. IT is said that the nymph Clytie adored the god Apollo. At the beginning, he loved her back, but then he fell in love with Leucothoe. Clytie’s jealousy caused her to tell Leucothoe’s father of the relationship and he punished her by burying her alive. It is said that in his anger, Apollo turned Clytie into a flower, but even in flower form she still loved him. She is said to spend her days watching him move the sun across the sky in his chariot. Due to this myth in Greek mythology, the sunflower is associated with adoration and loyalty. However, in China, sunflowers are associated with long life, good fortune, and vitality and in Native American cultures, they represent harvest, bounty, and provision because they provided seeds, pigment, and more. The Incas also associated the sunflower with symbolizing the Sun God, brought them to temples for worship, and had their priestesses wear sunflowers on their garments and as crowns.

Different colors of sunflowers mean different things. The common yellow sunflower  with yellow petals symbolizes vitality, intelligence, friendship, good luck and happiness. In certain religions, they symbolize worship and faithfulness, as well as spiritual knowledge and the desire to seek light and truth. These plants are often given as gifts on 3-year wedding anniversaries as a symbol of loyalty, longevity and adoration. This flowers look just like the warmth of sunshine and are a beautiful, happy gift for a friend or loved one. These flowers can also be orange in tone.

Sunflowers have been portrayed in many ways in history and art history .The most famous and well-known is Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflower series. This series includes paintings such as Vase With Twelve Sunflowers, Two Cut Sunflowers, and Four Cut Sunflowers. The artist Ai WeiWei also had an exhibit called Sunflower Seeds. This installation was made of millions of handcrafted porcelain seeds that were made by specialists in China-based small-scale workshops. This exhibition is meant to symbolize the relationship between the individual and the masses. Helen Keller, Jean Paul, and Pedro Calderon de la Barca also are inspired by sunflower symbolism.

The flowers have been shown to absorb harmful toxic elements and radiation from nuclear weapons. They can be grown all over North America and are the state flower of Kansas. These are also present elsewhere in places like Chernobyl, Russia and Peru. These flowers are associated with religious symbols and the god of the Sun. A bouquet of sunflowers is a great gift for birthdays and any other occasion. Some people feel such a close connection with the sunflower that they get a sunflower tattoo. Tattoos are not something that should be taken lightly. As they are permanent, it is important that you pick a tattoo that deeply connects with you. If you feel a deep spiritual connection to the symbolism and history of the sunflower, consider getting a sunflower tattoo.

These plants are heat and drought tolerant and bloom in the summer. They are easy plants to grow. They have been used throughout history to make food and medicine, such as using the juice from the stems to treat wounds and infusing the plant in water to treat kidneys and chest pains. They are currently grown for agricultural purposes for sunflower seeds and sunflower oil. The two types of sunflower varieties that are grown are the non-oil type with larger seeds and a thicker hull, and the oil seed type, which has small black seeds. 

What are other aster family plants?

There are many other plants in the aster family, or asteraceae. According to Britannica, the aster family is one of the largest angiosperm families. This family has over  1,620 genera and 23,600 species of herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees distributed throughout the world. The major genera and species are listed below.

  •  chamomile (genus Anthemis)
  •  sneezeweed (genus Helenium)
  •  cocklebur (genus Xanthium)
  •  chrysanthemum (genus Chrysanthemum)
  •  costmary (T. balsamita)
  •  salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius)
  •  cornflower (C. cyanus)
  •  ironweed (genus Vernonia)
  •  knapweed (genus Centaurea)
  •  yarrow (genus Achillea)
  •  China aster (Callistephus chinensis)
  •  blanketflower (genus Gaillardia)
  •  ragweed (genus Ambrosia)
  •  boneset (E. perfoliatum)
  •  sagebrush (various species)
  •  safflower (Carthamus tinctorius)
  •  black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
  •  hawkweed (genus Hieracium)
  •  tickseed (genus Coreopsis)
  •  dahlia (genus Dahlia)
  •  florist’s cineraria (Pericallis ×hybrida)
  •  artichoke (C. cardunculus, variety scolymus)
  •  genus Arnica
  •  burdock (genus Arctium)
  •  zinnia (genus Zinnia)
  •  genus Ageratum
  •  lettuce (Lactuca sativa)
  •  stevia (Stevia rebaudiana)
  •  goldenrod (genus Solidago)
  •  fleabane (genus Erigeron)
  •  genus Liatris
  •  tansy (genus Tanacetum)
  •  pyrethrum (T. coccineum and other species)
  •  tarragon (A. dracunculus)
  •  groundsel (genus Senecio)
  •  guayule (Parthenium argentatum)
  •  pussy-toes (genus Antennaria)
  •  leopard’s bane (genus Doronicum)
  •  aster (genus Aster and various other genera)
  •  endive (Cichorium endivia)
  •  edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum)
  •  white snakeroot (Ageratina altissima)
  •  chicory (Cichorium intybus)
  •  wormwood (various species)
  •  oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)
  •  marigold (genus Tagetes)
  •  rosinweed (genus Silphium)
  •  genus Artemisia
  •  pot marigold (genus Calendula)
  •  basket-flower (Plectocephalus americanus)
  •  cosmos (genus Cosmos)
  •  genus Eupatorium
  •  coneflower (genera Echinaceae, Ratibida, and Rudbeckia)
  •  Jerusalem artichoke (H. tuberosus)
  •  tarweed (genus Madia)
  •  cardoon (Cynara cardunculus)
  •  pyrethrum (C. cinerariifolium and other species)
  •  dandelion (genus Taraxacum)

Overall, the sunflower means happiness, friendship, loyalty and joy. This bright and sunny flower is a great gift. Try giving someone sunflower bouquets for their birthday, anniversary, new baby, or any other sort of occasion!


  1. List of plants in the family Asteraceae | Britannica 
  2. Sunflower Meaning and Symbolism | FTD