Sunflowers Rivaling Cherry Blossoms as Top Plant Attraction


Here’s why I’m going out on a cherry blossom limb to assert that the humble sunflower is gaining on DC’s most overhyped flowers.

Just outside DC, Maryland’s McKee Beshers Wildlife Management Area is just now seeing its sunflower fields cleared of photographers from near and far.

There’s a special Guide for Photographing the Sunflower Fields. A Virginia camera club has a meet-up there. Washingtonian Magazine calls it “Instagram Gold,” using these two and 10 more shots to prove the point.

But there’s LOTS more here on Instagram itself.

From the Department of Natural Resources we learn that

The sunflowers are planted in nine different fields in spring as a food source for wildlife, particularly Mourning Doves…People come from miles away and plan vacations well in advance to try and catch the view. You can regularly see the fields full of amateur and professional photographers, along with painters. It is quite the sight.

Photo credit: Forsaken Fotos on Flickr

There’s More There

The whole 2,000-acre wildlife manager area is a “mixture of woodlands, fields, wooded bottomland and managed wetland impoundments (green-tree reservoirs).” Never heard of them! But now I know that greentree reservoirs are where “biologists deliberately flood forests during the fall and winter…These attract colorful wood ducks as well as other waterfowl which migrate through or spend the winter here.”

All told, the place “provides habitat for a great diversity of wildlife species including deer, wild turkey, waterfowl, over 200 species of songbirds, and numerous reptiles and amphibians.”

But this bit surprised me: “The McKee-Beshers WMA is a public hunting property and Maryland has a hunting season on Mourning Doves that opens September 1 every year.” People really hunt these guys?

What I Saw

The photos I took this week show signs of heavy pollinator action on the big, happy blooms.

And in a blogger cheat, I took these shots at my local garden center. Who cares that it’s not an official wildlife management area?

Forsaken Fotos has more sunflower photo here.   Dove photo credit.


  1. There are several sunflower fields that have been attractions for years up here in the Rochester, NY area – and just up the road from me, a heavy equipment company planted a large chunk of land next to their building in sunflowers last year. It was amazing, and such a draw that they did it again this year too. They say they’ll continue doing it until that property is sold for development! And Susan, as to the mourning doves being hunted, that hardly seems sporting – mourning doves are dumber than dirt; too dumb to know that anyone’s hunting them. I have a lot of them in my yard, and if a hawk flies over and the songbirds all immediately hide, the mourning doves are looking around going “What??”.

  2. I used to work in rural Germany where there were many fields of oil seed sunflowers. It was so amusing to see them pointing in one direction in the morning and in the opposite direction on the way home in the late afternoon for the first few week or two. Then they would stop moving and just be higgledy-piggledy.

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