Discover The National Flower of Ukraine: Sunflower

Written by Heather Hall
Published: February 2, 2023
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Geography of Ukraine

Situated in eastern Europe, Ukraine is the second biggest nation on the European mainland after Russia. It is twofold the size of Italy and somewhat littler than Texas. Ukraine is bordered by Hungary, Russia, Moldova, Belarus, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia in the east and the Black Sea and Sea of Azov in the south.

The majority of Ukraine is level, with mountains accessible in the west (the Carpathians) and south of the Crimean Peninsula (the Crimeans). The nation’s lavish fields, known as steppes, are perfect for cultivating harvests like wheat, causing Ukraine to be nicknamed the “breadbasket of Europe.” The Dnieper, Ukraine’s longest river and Europe’s fourth longest waterway, streams down from Belarus and culminates in the Black Sea in the south.

Sunflowers are especially common in Ukraine. They are found growing in fields everywhere, creating beautiful landscapes full of vibrant colors during the summer. In addition to being a popular source of beauty and admiration, sunflowers also offer economic benefits as they can be sold or used to produce edible oils. Their seeds are also widely consumed directly or processed into various food products such as bread, snacks, and more. Sunflower cultivation has been an important part of Ukrainian culture for centuries and continues to bring joy and prosperity today!

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Ukraine

Situated in eastern Europe, Ukraine is the second biggest nation on the European mainland after Russia.

©hyotographics/Shutterstock.com

People and Culture

Ukraine is one of Europe’s largest countries in terms of size, but its population of about 43 million makes it less populated than other European nations such as Germany and France. Most Ukrainians are native inhabitants, while Russians make up the next largest group. Belarusians, Moldovans, Jews, and Muslims can also be found there. Eastern Orthodox Christianity is the primary religion practiced in Ukraine, while a small number of people follow Judaism or Islam.

Many Ukrainians live in cities or towns, with Kyiv, the capital and most populous city, being the home of the deepest metro station on the planet, the Arsenalna Metro Station. It required a dig of more than 340 feet to get under the Dnieper River, and taking the escalator to the bottom can take up to five minutes!

Popular dishes in Ukraine include borscht, varenyky, holubtsi, and deruni. Additionally, paska, a salted egg-bread dish, is typically served during Easter.

Ukraine traditional clothes

Most Ukrainians are native inhabitants, while Russians make up the next largest group. Belarusians, Moldovans, Jews, and Muslims can also be found there.

©Dmytro Gilitukha/Shutterstock.com

National Flower

In the early 1700s, the Russian Orthodox church prohibited the use of several types of fats and oils during Lent. This led to the growth of sunflower seed oil as a substitute, and eventually, two million acres of Ukrainian and Russian land were dedicated to sunflowers. Sunflower oil is now a popular vegetable oil choice due to its unsaturated fats and oleic acids, which help improve good cholesterol. Ukraine and Russia currently produce roughly 70-80 percent of the world’s sunflower oil exports.

Sunflowers are a visible part of Ukrainian culture, representing the country’s spirit and identity. They have become an important symbol in Ukraine, appearing on many symbols such as flags, coins, stamps, and postcards. Sunflowers can be seen growing throughout the country at various times of the year, and they often appear as decorations during special celebrations or holidays. In addition to being synonymous with Ukraine itself, sunflowers also represent joyfulness and happiness, which is cherished by Ukrainians everywhere, from young children to older generations, all across the nation.

Ukraine Sunflowers

Sunflowers are a visible part of Ukrainian culture, representing the country’s spirit and identity. They have become an important symbol in Ukraine, appearing on many symbols such as flags, coins, stamps, and postcards.

©FamVeld/Shutterstock.com

What Is a Sunflower?

Sunflower is a tall and vibrant flowering plant with large yellow petals that can grow up to 8 feet in height. It belongs to the family Asteraceae, which includes daisies, dahlias, chrysanthemums, and zinnias. The sunflower’s scientific name is Helianthus annuus.

Sunflowers are native to North America but have been cultivated all over the world for their beauty and edible seeds. They are also often used as a symbol of warmth, hope, faithfulness, and loyalty due to their characteristic of being able to turn towards the sunlight throughout the day following its movements in what appears like an act of worship or admiration toward it. Additionally, sunflowers represent Ukrainian national pride and resiliency.

Sunflowers at Sunset

Sunflowers come in a wide variety of colors and sizes.

©iStock.com/Katie Simmons

Tallest Sunflower Ever Recorded

Hans-Peter Schiffer, a German farmer from Karst, Nordrhein Westfalen, is credited with growing the tallest sunflower ever recorded. This impressive tall flower measured an incredible 30 feet 1 inch and was officially verified by Guinness World Records on 28 August 2014.

History of the Sunflower

The sunflower first came to North America in the 16th century when Spanish explorers brought it from Central and South America. It was quickly embraced by Native Americans, who used it for food, oil, dye, and medicine. Sunflowers have been cultivated in Ukraine since at least the 18th century.

They are now widely grown across the country as an ornamental flower and a source of food, oil, and even fodder for livestock. Sunflowers hold a special place in Ukrainian culture. They are often used to decorate homes during weddings or other festive occasions. The sunflower is also believed to be a symbol of good luck and hope. Two things that Ukrainians desperately need after decades of political turmoil.

How to Grow a Sunflower

Growing a sunflower is a relatively easy process, but there are some important steps to follow in order to ensure success. First, it’s best to sow the seeds outdoors after all danger of frost has passed and the soil can be worked easily. The soil should be well-draining and amended with organic matter such as compost or aged manure. This will help the sunflower grow strong and healthy roots.

Make sure you plant your seeds one inch deep into the ground, spaced at least 12 inches apart from each other, so they have enough room to spread out their roots and grow tall stalks. Water regularly during dry periods making sure not to overwater, which can harm the growth of your sunflower plants. Once established, sunlight is essential for successful blooms, so make sure that your garden receives plenty of sunshine throughout the day!

Sunflower Field

Make sure you plant your seeds one inch deep into the ground, spaced at least 12 inches apart from each other, so they have enough room to spread out their roots and grow tall stalks.

©Retired Guy Photography/Shutterstock.com

Where Do Sunflowers Come From?

Sunflowers are native to North and Central America, with the exception of three species that originate from South America. The most well-known of these is the common sunflower (Helianthus annuus). They are often associated with its signature round flower heads and yellow petals that resemble the Sun.

These beautiful blooms can be found in various parts of North and Central America, from Mexico all the way up to Canada. They grow best in warm climates where there is plenty of sunshine for them to absorb, hence their name!

In some areas, they may even be considered a weed. They can spread quickly due to cross-pollination between different plants. Regardless of this, sunflowers have become a symbol of joy and good luck around the world.

What Animals Eat Sunflowers?

What types of animals eat sunflowers? Sunflower seeds are a nutritious snack for many kinds of birds, including cardinals, chickadees, finches, jays, and sparrows. Wild turkeys and squirrels also enjoy feeding on the seeds in the flower head.

Chipmunks, deer, voles, and eastern cottontail rabbits all feed on the sunflower seeds. Spittlebugs consume the nectar from their flowers while honey bees pollinate them. Raccoons also feast on the sunflower seeds but can sometimes eat other parts of the plant too. All these animals benefit from having access to sunflowers as a food source. Sunflower petals are also edible for some species. They provide important nutrition for wildlife in the fall when they are trying to get fattened up for winter.

wild turkey

Wild turkeys are among the many animals who feed on sunflowers.

©Sean R. Stubben/Shutterstock.com

Wildlife of Ukraine

Ukraine is home to diverse landscapes and wildlife. It includes predators such as wolves, martens, and foxes, as well as birds like grouse, wild geese, and partridges. Fish like sturgeon, pike, and carp can be found in rivers and lakes across the country. Tragically, a nuclear accident at the Chernobyl (or Chornobyl in Ukrainian) nuclear power plant in 1986 caused devastation to northern Ukraine’s environment. However, the exclusion zone around the area has seen some wildlife return. Even rare animals like lynx and European bison have been spotted.

Young Pine marten looking out of a tree trunk.

Ukraine is home to diverse landscapes and wildlife, including predators such as the marten.

©iStock.com/Photocech

Next Up

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/oleshkonti


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About the Author

Heather Hall is a writer at A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on plants and animals. Heather has been writing and editing since 2012 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture. As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, Heather enjoys hiking, gardening, and trail running through the mountains with her dogs.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

When were sunflowers introduced to Ukraine?

In the early 1700s, the Russian Orthodox church prohibited the use of several types of fats and oils during Lent. This led to the growth of sunflower seed oil as a substitute, and eventually, two million acres of Ukrainian and Russian land were dedicated to sunflowers.

What is a sunflower?

Sunflower is a tall and vibrant flowering plant with large yellow petals that can grow up to 8 feet in height. It belongs to the family Asteraceae, which includes daisies, dahlias, chrysanthemums, and zinnias. The sunflower’s scientific name is Helianthus annuus.

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