In this enquiry the children will be learning about the requirements of plants for life and growth, the different functions of different flowering plants, the life cycle of a seed including pollination, see formation and dispersal, as well as closely observing how a sunflower seed grows. Use the links below to do some research or find out more about each of these aspects.
Click the picture below to find out about the lifecycle of a plant or click here to play a game.
Can you make the plant grow by clicking the picture below?
If you want to find out about the different parts of a plant and their functions, click the picture below.
Click here to find out the main functions of the different parts of a plant.
How does a seed grow and reproduce?
To find out about seed dispersal click the picture below.
What do you know about Sunflowers?
A Little Sunflower History….
American Indian tribes throughout North America were growing sunflowers in what is now Arizona and New Mexico about 5000 years ago. Some archaeologists think that sunflowers were grown as a crop even before corn. Sunflower was used in many ways by the different American Indian tribes. Seed was ground or pounded into flour for cakes, mush or bread. Some tribes mixed the meal with other vegetables such as beans, squash, and corn. The seed was also cracked and eaten for a snack. There are references of squeezing the oil from the seed and using the oil in making bread. When the Spanish explorers came to the New World in the early 1500’s, they took sunflower seeds home with them but for a long time the Europeans only used sunflowers for medicine or as decoration for their homes.
By about 1769, the sunflower traveled eat to Russia where the emperor, Peter the Great, had his subjects produce oil from the seeds on a large scale. By 1880, Russian sunflower seed found its way into the US and seed companies were advertising the ‘Mammoth Russian’ sunflower seed in their catalogues.
Some Sunflower Facts:
- The scientific name for sunflowers is Helianthus—Helia for sun, and Anthus for flower.
- Sunflowers attract birds and bees.
- Sunflowers are one of the fastest growing plants. They can grow 8 to 12 feet tall in rich soil within six months.
- The tallest sunflower was grown in The Netherlands (25’ 5.5” tall) in 1986 by M. Heijmf.
- The sunflower is native to North America.
- Sunflowers were cultivated by Native Americans well over 1,000 years ago.
- Wild sunflower is highly branched with small heads and small seeds, in contrast to the single-stem and large seed head of the domesticated sunflower.
- A well-known sunflower characteristic is that the flowering head tracks the sun’s movement, a phenomenon known as heliotropism. The daily orientation of the flower to the sun is a direct result of different growth rates on the sunny and shady sides of the stem. A plant-growth regulator, or auxin, accumulates on the shaded side of a plant. Because of this accumulation, the darker side grows faster than the sunlit side. Thus, the stem bends toward the sun.
- The sunflower resembles one huge flower, but a single sunflower head hosts 1,000 to 2,000 individual flowers. The yellow petals are actually protective leaves that cover the centre of the head while it is growing. Each of those tiny flowers will eventually generate a sunflower seed.
- Sunflower seeds are rich in oil.
- The sunflower is the national flower of Russia and the state flower of Kansas, USA.
Find out about the lifecycle of a sunflower by watching the video below.