Saturday, May 19, 2012
Sunflowers can grow to astonishing heights and are a handsome addition to gardens and balconies. Their large capitula turn gracefully throughout the day, following the sun and attracting a wide range of wildlife to their abundant care. Butterflies suck their nectar, while bumblebees and honeybees gather pollen. The flowers also attract many kinds of predatory insects, which control the numbers of aphids and other vermin in the vicinity. Sunflowers that are left to stand during the winter provide nutrition for birds that eat their seeds. Thank you Ella for this nice FDC and the stamps on it, which were issued on 7.5.2012,and of course the pretty maxicard.
Sunflowers that grow wild in Finland usually spread from seed mixtures that are left out for birds to eat in winter. City cleaning spreads the seeds to dumps and roadsides, and the clearing away of earth, grit and snow from city streets also plays a part in transporting the seeds. Cypselas that end up in water can travel long distances; they are able to float for weeks on end. Some Finnish sunflowers have arrived straight from North America in unwashed maize and soya beans. Sunflowers in Finland do not usually have enough time for their seeds to ripen before winter sets in, so seeds must be imported every year.
When people talk of sunflowers they are almost always referring to common sunflowers, although there are many other species. The sunflower that is most common in Finnish gardens is Miss Mellish sunflower (H. x laetiflorus), an almost-native variety that is a tenacious natural hybrid of two species that can survive a long time in old gardens. One of Miss Mellish’s parent plants is Jerusalem artichoke (H. tuberosus) which is grown for its tubers and which is also a member of the sunflower genus.