Native sunflower; state flower of Kansas. Photo by LynnK827/Flickr (Noncommercial Use Permitted with Attribution/No Derivative Works).
Official State Flower of Kansas
Kansas designated the wild native sunflower as official state flower and floral emblem in 1903. All State Flowers
The sunflower is also featured on the Kansas quarter, state flag, and even the nickname for Kansas is "The Sunflower State."
Native Americans were using native sunflowers for food over 3,000 years ago. These wild sunflower seeds were only about 5 mm. long. Over hundreds of years and careful husbandry (selecting only the largest seeds for cultivation), the Plains tribes began the development of today's large modern sunflower, rich with oil.
Sunflower heads consist of 1,000 to 2,000 individual flowers joined together by a receptacle base. The large petals around the edge of a head are actually individual ray flowers, which do not develop into seed.
There are more than 60 species of sunflowers. The native sunflower grows to 15 feet tall with flower heads up to 2 feet in diameter, and can produce over 1,000 seeds from one plant. The flower head turns and faces the sun throughout the day - tracking the sun's movement. Sunflower seeds are rich in protein and yield a high-quality vegetable oil.
Excerpt from Kansas Legislation
WHEREAS, Kansas has a native wild flower common throughout her borders, hardy and conspicuous, of definite, unvarying and striking shape, easily sketched, moulded, and carved, having armorial capacities, ideally adapted for artistic reproduction, with its strong, distinct disk and its golden circle of clear glowing rays -- a flower that a child can draw on a slate, a woman can work in silk, or a man can carve on stone or fashion in clay; and
WHEREAS, This flower has to all Kansans a historic symbolism which speaks of frontier days, winding trails, pathless prairies, and is full of the life and glory of the past, the pride of the present, and richly emblematic of the majesty of a golden future, and is a flower which has given Kansas the world-wide name, "the sunflower state"...
Be it enacted ... that the helianthus or wild native sunflower is ... designated ... the state flower and floral emblem of the state of Kansas.