A sunflower is called 'tournesol' in French, which literally means 'turned toward the sun'. When we look to the east from Loups d'Or, we see the backsides of the sunflowers, so we were wondering why they're actually not turned toward the sun.
Since 1753, the scientific name for the sunflower is Helianthus annuus L. The word Helianthus refers to a plant which turns its flowers and leaves to the sun, helios means sun and anthus means flower, annuus means annual.
So why do the sunflowers look to the east?
Researchers were also curious to know what exactly was causing the solar movement of the flowers. To find out, they disturbed the process in various ways: they secretly turned the pots a half turn at night, prevented the movement of the flowers, and put the flowers inside with a different light-dark rhythm. It turned out that the flowers were just unable to rotate, they grew less fast and they all had smaller leaves.
The flowers rotate because the east side of the stem grows fast during the day and slowly at night; for the west side of the stem it is the other way round. The researchers discovered this by drawing dots on the stem and following the growth with a camera: they saw that the stem grew faster on one side than on the other as an internal clock was responsible for this rotation, in combination with the sun itself.
Adult flowers no longer turn, but invariably face east, because the flowers are more sensitive to light in the morning and grow faster facing towards the east. This eastern direction is not coincidental because the flowers facing the east, appear to warm up more quickly than the flowers facing the west.
The reason why do adult sunflowers 'look' to the east is also ......because insects like warm flowers 🙂
Come and see for yourself..... and if you rather prefer looking west, you'll see maize (this year).
Looking forward to welcoming you!
Pimm + Marcel
Have a look at our availability calendar and if you have any questions, feel free to contact us. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Most of our blogs are written to give you more information about the Dordogne, Périgord, where we have Gîte Loups d'Or, our 4-star, luxury, self-catering holiday home. We write about subjects we think are interesting for you to know and to give you inspiration to explore this beautiful part of France yourself. If you have any questions or if you want more information, please feel free to contact us.