Down the Sunflower Track

On day 101 of 365 Days Wild I walked out along the local lanes in the company of my mum, Millie Thom, and we decided to venture down a lane that we had never been down before. At the end of this lane we discovered a wonderful little track. Such farm tracks are always my favourite types of path to walk down, away from tarmac surfaces. I like to feel the earth under my feet.

There was a field of sunflowers down the track. Unfortunately there was also a ‘Keep out’ sign situated at the entrance, so I could only photograph them from the outskirts. I still managed to get a few moderately decent shots.

Sunflowers are grown for a variety of reasons and I have to wonder what these ones might be intended for. Sunflower seeds are well known as a bird food. Filling a feeder with sunflower seeds (or, even better, sunflower hearts, which have the husks already removed) will bring in garden birds such as robins, greenfinches, blackbirds, sparrows and starlings.

Alternatively, maybe they’ll be used for making sunflower oil. This is commonly used in cooking as a frying oil, and in cosmetic formulations as an emollient.

They might even be for human food. Sunflower seeds are a healthy addition to your diet and are great sprinkled over muesli or salads, or added to a smoothie. They contain vitamin E, which helps to protect cells against free radicals and oxidising chemicals, whilst also helping the body to produce red blood cells which helps to promote healthy circulation. They also contain vitamin B-1 (Thiamin), which activates enzymes within cells and helps to drive the chemical reaction they need to function, helping with things such as deriving energy from food. And they contain copper, which benefits the colour and condition of your skin and hair.

Sunflowers weren’t the only flowers to be seen down the track. I also spotted a lovely clump of Corn Marigolds (Glebionis segetum). These are the first that I’ve seen this year. As they’re at amber status – classified S ‘Vulnerable and Near-Threatened’ – it was a delight to spot even these few. As with many of our wildflower species, their once widespread presence has been massively reduced due to the use of herbicides, liming, improved seed cleaning, and the shift to autumn-sown crops.

That’s all for today. Have you found any new paths to walk down, recently?

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