The Kaw Nation…

Among the native people of present day Kansas were the Kanza who were forcibly removed to Oklahoma in the 1870’s where they now number over 3,000 proud individuals known as the Kaw Nation. Their culture and language is all but lost as only a few individuals can recall the trials and tribulations as the Nation began reforming and regrouping in the early twentieth century.

What would the Kanza people have eaten at their celebration at the end of a bountiful summer? Bison?

Bison on the plains of Kansas.

– without a doubt! Deer, elk, fish, antelope, turkey, jackrabbits? – surely. Maize, nuts, rose hips, tubers, and sunflower seeds? Most likely. Let’s look at the last one.

The native Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is the state wildflower of Kansas and is found throughout the state on any open land. The seed, as we all know, is great tasting when roasted and provides a long list of nutrients. The plant provides several colorful dyes and effectively removes toxins from the soil. Have you looked at a sunflower closely?

The native Sunflower in all its respendent beauty.

The florets and eventual seeds are arranged in a mathematical sequence starting from the center – 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89….. This is known to mathematicians as the Fibonacci Sequence which was developed in the mid 1200’s by Italian mathematicians. Simply add the last two numbers together to get the next in line.

The Sunflower center follows a particular mathematical pattern.

Another simple example in which it is possible to find the Fibonacci sequence in nature is given by the number of petals of flowers. Most have three (like lilies and irises), five (parnassia, rose hips) or eight (cosmea), 13 (some daisies), 21 (chicory), 34, 55 or 89 (asteraceae). Amazing is the order of nature!

I could talk math for hours but our task at hand is the Sunflower. There are dozens of varieties on the Kansas plains and few grow alone.

Sunflowers Galore!!
The Sunflower loves company.
The Kanza did not know the Oxeye Daisy as it emigrated in seed stores from Europe.
In wetter edges of the prairie, the Wild Bergamot or Bee Balm thrives. A fragrant tea is produced from the steeped blossoms.
The Verbena is another Sunflower companion.

We have seen how Sunflowers can brighten the plains and our outlook on life – bright, cheerful, and full of culinary promise! Let’s look at one more Sunflower scene before heading to a wildflower haven – Kentucky and the banks of the Ohio River – my favorite place for fish and flowers.

See you in Kentucky! Is Bluegrass really blue and is the Goldenrod really golden??

2 thoughts on “The Kaw Nation…

  1. I had no idea there is math involved in Sunflowers!!! 🌻🌻🌻


  2. Fibonacci numbers and their mathematical applications and relationship to nature are mind-blowing!!!

    You go – George!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Steve Z >


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