A Cowboy’s Faith: More than a flower – Osage County Online | Osage County News

A Cowboy’s Faith: More than a flower

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“The most beautiful flower in the Sunflower State is obviously the sunflower.”

That must be true or why would the sunflower be designated the state flower of Kansas?

No debate sunflowers are pretty to look at and many roadside ditches display lots of them.

It’s October, and sunflowers are already starting to wilt after displaying their beautiful yellow blossoms of glory.

Some years ago, visiting with a county agent, he said, “Sunflower growth varies from year to year.”

Having never given it much thought earlier, and not that it really matters, but the county agent was correct. Some years sunflowers grow everywhere, and other times there aren’t very many sunflowers.

Certain people contend, “Sunflowers are just another worthless weed.” Then others insist, “Oh sunflowers are such a beautiful wildflower.”

Both are correct. Sunflowers are a weed, and sunflowers are pretty to look at. However, sunflowers are also now a profitable farm crop. Uncertain all uses for sunflowers, but a few seeds in a small sack on the candy shelf are high priced.

Younger generations don’t even know what an encyclopedia is. But that’s where old-timers look to find out unknown information: “Sunflower leaves are used as fodder, flowers yield a yellow dye, and the seeds contain oil for table use, soap, paints and lubricants. Sunflower oil cake is livestock and poultry feed. Seeds may be eaten dried, roasted, or ground into nut butter, and are common in birdseed mixes.”

Kansas designated the wild native sunflower as official state flower and floral emblem in 1903. The sunflower is featured on the Kansas 25-cent piece, along with the state flag, and of course Kansas’ nickname: “The Sunflower State.”

Native Americans were using native sunflowers for food more than 3,000 years ago.

Sunflower heads consist of 1,000 to 2,000 individual flowers joined together by a receptacle base. The large petals around the edge of a head are actually individual ray flowers, which do not develop into seed. There are more than 60 species of sunflowers. The native sunflower grows to 15 feet tall with flower heads up to two feet in diameter and can produce over 1,000 seeds from one plant. The flower head turns and faces the sun throughout the day, tracking the sun’s movement.

Reminded of Song Of Solomon 2:12: “The flowers are unfolding in the fields.”


Kansas sunflowers in bloom.

Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.

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