Have you ever planted sunflowers? They’re a hearty species and will grow six feet tall or more even when you forget to water them. They are beautiful to watch grow and you learn a lot about the species by doing so.
Now, close your eyes and imagine sunflowers growing as far as your eyes can see. Wouldn’t that be an awesome sight? Well that’s exactly how the Great American Plains looked 200,000 years ago.
Two species of sunflowers grew on the Great American Plains; the common and the petioled. Then, the buffalo migrated into the area by the thousands. This caused a great trench to be formed that was so deep you could barely see the heads of the animals. As the animals migrated, sunflower seeds attached themselves to the buffalo’s thick, shaggy fur. Yes, they hitched a ride. Then as the animals moved, the sunflower seeds dropped into the trench and secured themselves in the plowed up soil. What happened next will amaze you.
The common and petrioled sunflower seeds and pollen mixed together and a new species of sunflower was created. We know it today as the anomalous sunflower. It took these flowers approximately 60 years to develop, which isn’t long at all. The amazing part of it all is that it was the buffalo that created the new hybrid sunflowers.
During that time so many thousand years ago, the Great American Plains was the largest sunflower garden of all time. The chance of such a large sunflower garden ever growing again is almost nil.