Sunflowers: faithful followers of the sun

How did the name «sunflower» come about? What do other people call it? And when can a sunflower show us the direction?
Sunflowers resemble miniature suns. The name says it all, not only in English, but also in German (Sonnenblume), Dutch (zonnebloem) and Romanian (floarea soarelui). In French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Hungarian, though, the name reflects the fact that sunflowers "follow the sun". And quite rightly so, since these unique flowers constantly track the sun as it moves across the sky. On sunny days, both the flower heads and the leaves follow the sun on its journey from east to west; during the night they get ready to welcome the rising sun by returning to their default position facing east. Nice to know: ripe sunflowers always look to the east.

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