Anne's Blog

July Sunflower Splendor in Umbria

Date: July 31, 2018 - categories: , , - Leave your thoughts

The cultivation of sunflowers throughout Italy adds a joyful floral frame to the views of the medieval hilltowns…

…..and creates a butter-yellow carpet setting off  a simple farmhouse

..,,,while rolling yellow fields of sunflowers blend with the greens bordering rolling hills…

A Greek myth recounts that the sun – Apollo –  transformed the nymph Clizia into a flower after rejecting her.  Having lost Apollo’s love, Ovid writes that Clizia would then follow foreve his movements.
But scientists tell us that the brilliant yellow flowers follow a Circadian rhythm, a “biological clock.”  The young flowers follow the sun from east to west but the grown flowers only face east and thus absorb the most heat possible, attracting the insects, thus facilitating pollination.

Younger sunflowers follow the sun’s movements throughout the day:

The mature sunflowers face east all day to absorb maximum warmth

In August, the majestic sunflowers will droop their heads as their seeds near full maturation:

Combines will rumble through the fields harvesting the prized girasoli.   For me, sad is the site of the fields post-harvest – where perhaps a few small sunfowers might sprout from dropped seeds:

Those sprouting sunflowers are a reminder that next summer, fields will be ablaze again.  In the meantime, we’ll enjoy cooking not just with our olive oil but also with a bit of olio di girasole, too – as in this recipe which Pino’s mamma taught me.

Thanks to Emilie Nahon, our Belgian friend, for some of the photos. Do enjoy her website,

Click here for a recipe using sunflower seed oil as well as olive oil

Read about another recipe with sunflower seed oil

Read about sunflowers in the art of Van Gogh – and my brother Tom

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