Seeds that is, in a giant sunflower seed head. On Backyard Biology-Sept. 30 I asked blog readers to guess how many seeds were in this sunflower. One reader guessed 1500 seeds, so she gets the prize — loud applause from me!
This is the entire seed crop from the 18 giant sunflower plants in my garden this year. Obviously, I would not make a lot of money farming sunflowers.
So, a giant sunflower that grows a 6-8 inch diameter flower on a 12 foot stalk can, with the help of its pollinators, produce over 1000 potential offspring to replace itself. All it takes is 1 viable seed to sprout and reproduce successfully for the parent plant to call itself a success at passing along its genes. Some large percentage of the 1000+ seed crop will no doubt get eaten by a variety of seed predators: chipmunks, squirrels, chickadees, and nuthatches in my backyard are certainly willing to devour them. Another significant percentage may never germinate because they land in the wrong place, and some may germinate but perish as seedlings.
Bottom line, life is a risky proposition.