The sunflower originally comes from South America. In the Inca civilization,
it was considered the symbol of sovereignty: the god-king, earthly personification
of the divine Sun, was accompanied during rituals by warriors and noblemen
bearing golden sunflowers, the vegetable image of the Sun.
The cultivation of sunflower in Europe is relatively recent. When it was
imported, in the 18th century, the richness in oil of its seeds was not
known, so it was only used as an ornamental plant until the 1850s.