While their distinctive and brilliant appearance makes it easy to see why sunflowers have long held our fascination, when they were first grown in Central and South America, it was more for their usefulness (providing oil and food) than beauty. And perhaps this unique combination of striking beauty and utility is, in part, why sunflowers have appeared as such revered symbols throughout the ages.
It's said that the natives of the Inca Empire worshipped a giant sunflower, and that Incan priestesses wore large sunflower disks made of gold on their garments. Images of sunflowers were found in the temples of the Andes mountains, and Native American Indians placed bowls of sunflower seeds on the graves of their dead. The Impressionist period of art is famous for its fascination with the sunflower, and this striking flower remains today a commonly photographed and painted icon of uncommon beauty.
The 3rd wedding anniversary flower and the state flower of Kansas, sunflowers turn to follow the sun. Their open faces symbolize the sun itself, conveying warmth and happiness, adoration and longevity.