Heaps of flowers flow out of the top of the boot for just a few weeks in June every year. Driving up Louisiana Highway 3049 under the bright summer sun you will see the tall stalks and stately blooms along the road. Acres of farmland in the northwestern part of the state become vivid yellow and lush green with fields of sunflowers.
About 20 years ago or so, a farmer wanted to do something different with some of his land, and all kinds of people drove by to see his patch of flowers. Other farmers joined him, and now they have a festival to celebrate the vibrant spectacle of nature. Visitors are encouraged to take a bunch home because that is southern hospitality!
Native to North America, the wild sunflower was domesticated into a single-headed plant by Native Americans. Seeds were ground into flour for cakes or bread, and also cracked and eaten for snacks. The beautiful blooms were utilized for body painting and decorations. The plant was even used medicinally for snake bites and other body ointments, and the dried stalk was a building material.
Like thousands of smiling faces across the countryside, sunflowers make you happy. Showy, but not pompous, they are a sturdy flower. The magnificent blooms really brighten up your day. The sunflower fields will only last a few weeks, but remember this impressive plant has many purposes. You can save the heads of the flowers to set out in the winter to feed birds, or the thick dried stems make great winter kindling. Take a drive and gather a cheery collection!