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Sunflowers to the east
RUMFORD POINT- As hundreds of commuters cross over the Martin Memorial Bridge this summer, little did they know they have been watched over by sunflower plants growing amongst the corn stalks.
David McCrum planted several rows of sunflowers to see if they would grow and “to get people talking.” He not only gave passers-by something different and unique to look at, but he gave a great backdrop to some potentially stunning photos.
As immature cultivated plants with flower buds protruding from the tops, the plants wake up every morning facing the east to greet the sun and by the afternoon they face west to put the day to bed. By dawn the next morning, they are back to the east. This is a natural exhibit of solar tracking.
As the flowers bud and mature, the stem stiffens and the flower becomes fixed facing the eastward direction.
Flowers of the wild seen on roadsides do not follow the sun and their flowering heads face many directions when mature. However, their leaves exhibit some solar tracking.
Unlike the sunflower flower, the flowers of some plant species track the sun across the sky from east to west. A good example of this is the alpine plant, the snow buttercup (Ranunculus adoneus).
By facing the sun, the flowers of the snow buttercup are able to collect heat from the sun. The heat is thought to help pollination since the insect pollinators will warm and be able to fly better in the cold air and deliver pollen more effectively to other plants. The warmth also appears to help the pollen germinate after it is delivered to another flower.
So, as you pass by the fields feel free to take pictures, walk amongst the towering flowers and enjoy the visual gift.