Why Are Sunflowers Creepy? (Explained)

Why are sunflowers creepy

Ok, I have some good news for you, if you are slightly embarrassed to admit you have a fear of sunflowers, don’t be.

That’s because it is actually common enough to have a name.

Yep, that’s right, you definitely aren’t the only one asking ‘why are sunflowers so creepy?’.

The fear of sunflowers is called helianthophobia. It takes its name from the Greek words heli, (meaning sun), anthos (meaning ‘flower’) and phobia (meaning ‘fear’).

It is commonly known phobias are irrational things, but that doesn’t make them any easier to deal with.

So let me try and explain what it is that makes sunflowers so scary to some.

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Why Are Sunflowers Creepy? 

The vast majority of people that find sunflowers creepy are unnerved by their large, dark centers, which create a feeling of being ‘sucked in’ to the flower. For many the fear of sunflowers is based upon another phobia – trypophobia, the fear of closely packed holes and again relates to the head of a sunflower. The fear of sunflowers is common enough to have its own name, helianthophobia.


1: People Find The Center Of A Sunflower Overwhelming


A common denominator in people finding sunflowers scary seems to be center.

Many sufferers of helianthophobia liken the center of a sunflower to a large, dark vortex with an ominous feeling to it.

A sense of being “sucked in”, is a regular fear. 

It seems to be a combination of the bright and attractive petals, drawing attention to the dark, central disc.

This creates a real feeling of dread and foreboding, almost hypnotic in its attraction.


2: A Fear Of Sunflowers And Another Phobia Go Hand In Hand…


Close-up of a sunflower (Helianthus annuus), Republic of Ireland

Many of those who are scared of sunflowers knowingly, or unknowingly, suffer from another phobia – trypophobia.

The meaning of this word comes from the Greek work trŷpa, which means ‘hole’ and the word ‘phobia’, which as we have discussed means ‘fear’.

So you can probably guess what trypophobia is… the fear of closely packed holes.

The head of a sunflower is made up of thousands of tiny flowers, which ripen to become seeds. So again it is the head here that drives the phobia.

This was confirmed by a post I read on a forum when I was trying to find out why people find sunflowers creepy:

“There’s a giant sunflower in the garden in front of the Reception class. I had never seen one that up close before but my goodness they are frightening. The seeds. THE SEEDS. The thing is covered in seeds. Just typing this is giving me the shivers.”

Sufferers of trypophobia will also likely be creeped out by things like honeycomb and sponges.


3: Sunflowers Are So Tall…


Alongside its bright colors, the other thing most people will say when you ask them to describe a sunflower is the fact they are so tall.

Now sunflowers generally grow from 1.8m to 3m (6ft to 10ft), whilst giant sunflowers can grow up to 6m (20ft) tall, and the tallest sunflower ever recorded exceeded 9m (30ft).

The extreme height of a sunflower can be intimidating, many of them will be taller than most people.

One sufferer even referred to being watched as they walked past a sunflower, with the thought of a “giant eye staring” at them, being at the back of their mind.

So this brings the height of the sunflower into the equation, along with the size of the head again.


4: Sunflowers Aren’t Just Tall…


It isn’t just the height of a sunflower that is out of the ordinary, it sports a similarly sizeable bloom.

The bloom of a sunflower can grow to be more than 60cm (2ft) in diameter.

On top of them being so tall, this huge flower can also be quite daunting and surreal.

In fact, the long thin stem, matched by the large head can appear very human-like. Seeing a potentially 10ft tall human with a large head towering over you would be scary!


5: Some People Find The Texture Of A Head Of A Sunflower Scary


More than one person mentioned the texture of the sunflower head as being scary. It was even compared to being like “touching a dead tarantula”.

The head does have a bristly and unusual feeling that evokes a certain amount of discomfort bordering on fear among some.


6: The Way Sunflowers Move Creeps Many People Out


Sunflowers display a trait called heliotropism.

That is the heads of young sunflowers follow the sun during the day, tracking from east to west across the sky.

This intriguing trait ensures the plant receives the sunlight it needs for photosynthesis.

Even when the sun falls below the horizon the head of the sunflower continues to move, until it faces east and is in the right position to catch the sun in the morning.

Now, this is scientifically explainable and it is down to the way a sunflower’s stem grows.

During the night the west side of the stem of the young sunflower grows, so the head bends eastward. During the day the east side grows, so the stem moves to the west, effectively following the sun.

But that doesn’t stop it being creepy!

If you drive past a field of sunflowers in the morning and they are facing one way, then you drive back past in the afternoon and they are facing the other, no matter how logical the explanation is, I can understand why lots of people would be freaked out by it!


Final Thoughts


As you can see there are a few reasons why people find sunflowers so creepy.

It does seem that the overriding aspect, in one way or another, comes down to their size.

Lots of people find the large center of a sunflower foreboding, with it particularly invoking fear in those who already suffer from trypophobia, the fear of holes.

When the size of the head of a sunflower is combined with its long thin stem, for an almost unnatural, human-like appearance, this compounds the sense of fear and is another aspect that lots of people don’t like.

Then the unusual way young sunflowers follow the sun is scary to many. Moving from east to west to get their full fill of the sunlight.

Now sunflowers are unusual-looking flowers, so it could equally be this odd look that puts people on edge. 

Phobias are irrational, we all know that sunflowers physically can’t hurt us, but that certainly doesn’t stop people from finding them creepy!

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