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.