The Power of the Sunflower

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The sunflower has been the national flower of Ukraine since the mid-1700s, and a symbol of peace throughout the country’s history. 

The flower also plays a major role in the Ukraine economy, as Ukraine is a major world supplier of sunflower oil, and their seeds are the most popular snack item in the country. Sunflowers are also a symbol of nuclear disarmament, and were planted by representatives of the US, Ukraine and Russia in 1996 in locations of nuclear missile silos that had been destroyed.  Why sunflowers? Not only are the bright yellow flowers symbols of optimism, they also absorb radioactive isotopes from the environment. Sunflowers have been planted at both the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disaster sites because they help to remove radioactive toxins from the environment.  Today the flowers are a symbol of resistance against the Russian invasion, their colourful exuberance presenting a stark contrast to the devastation the Ukrainian people are witnessing across their country. KG

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