The toxicity of sunflowers

Here is a fun fact about the epitome of positivity, a pop-culture darling, a ready icon of joy and sunniness – the beloved sunflower: there is a darker shade to its pleasant depiction.

I recently learned about the allelopathic effect of sunflowers. Put simply, sunflowers secrete certain toxins that make it difficult for other plants to grow in soil alongside them.

I couldn’t help but relate it to their prevalent symbolism with keeping our faces to the sun in mundane as well as difficult circumstances even if it is sometimes impractical to (and/or) even if the sun scorches us. Being upbeat and cheerful from within is a gift and should be treated as such. It does not do to make gifts a staple.

If you think of sunflowers as one sentiment and other plants as other kinds of sentiments, sunflowers are fiercely competitive things to live with. Hence there is every possibility that the compulsion to constantly be agreeable and cheerful and sunny is just as hostile to the soil where it is planted, in other words: our minds.

What then is the staple, you ask? In this statistically insignificant human’s limited understanding, the staple is not a single category of emotions, rather a range of varying, contrasting, inconsistent, paradoxical sentiments that are feedbacks and byproducts of the human-life joyride (take ‘joyride’ with a pinch of wry sarcasm).

Sometimes life isn’t fair. Sometimes our definition of truth, of right and wrong can change within an hour of sitting with ourselves away from the voices of the world. A regular if not a daily practice of intentional solitude is therefore, essential.

It is also possible to create a suitable distance from the chaos of our own minds. Imagine being a spectator with a first-row seat in a gladiator match where you watch yourself fight against your own vicious demons. Scrutinize every move you make; also keep a steady eye on every move your demons make.

There are times when no matter how hard you try, they still win; leaving you tired, bruised, and heaving. Sometimes you are mortified at the amount of resentment contained inside you at any given point of time.

A gentle reminder from one human to another: at times like these, don’t belittle the pain of your personal growth by comparing your pace and unique set of experiences to that of another’s.

Maybe run around a mile or two. Write about it but don’t expect anyone to read it or to understand. If a soul sees a reflection of one of their own faces in it, you’ll feel an unexpected sense of belonging.

Sometimes the best thing we can do when in pain is to accept it, endure it, be gentle on ourselves for feeling it and allow ourselves to heal in a way that makes us stronger for future battles.

Thanks for stopping by ✨


  1. Interesting post, Gauri. I learned more about the biology of sunflowers. Sunflowers do work well as a metaphor in your post.

    Sunflowers are also the national flower and symbol of Ukraine. With the war going on there, sunflowers are a symbol of strength and hope for their country. That is the reason, I think, for the high visibility of sunflowers right now! We all hope that the war ends soon, and Ukrainians can rebuild their devastated country. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I truly appreciate you taking the time to read and offer your kind feedback, Cheryl. Thank you so much. I was actually somewhat insecure about what I wrote here. I also wondered if I was too young and inexperienced to say things like this, or to make such assumptions about positivity. But your generous words of encouragement offer comfort and inspiration.
      Also, thank you for mentioning that the sunflower is Ukraine’s national flower…glad to have learned something new today. And I completely agree with you. May the suffering of innocents cease. Here’s praying for their peace and healing 🍀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think each stage of life is important and has something to say. I have posted some of my old high school poems that I remembered. All the best!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Heartening to know you feel that way 🌱 I will try my best to wholeheartedly learn the lessons that each stage of life brings with it ☺️


    1. Thank you so much 😍 I will read your poems and get back to you soon with my attempted interpretations of them!

      Liked by 1 person

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