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Avas Flowers -In business since 1977, Avas Flowers possesses a reputation as one of the nation’s leading florists.

The Humble Pumpkin – Musings by Avas Flowers

Pumpkins are a traditional fall food. It is a type of squash with a roundish shape and a smooth ribbed skin with a distinctive deep orange color. This squash is native to North America and the oldest evidence to its existence dates back to between 7700 to 5500 BC. The average pumpkin usually averages between 8 and 20 pounds be certain varieties can weigh almost a ton.

The pumpkin is a popularly grow plant in the United States. Over 1.5 billion pounds of it are grown each year. The top pumpkin growing states are Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana and California. Pumpkins have many uses in cooking, probably the most famous is pumpkin pie a traditional fall and Thanksgiving dessert. They are used in many other baking endeavors such as pumpkin bread, muffins and other delights. The are used are the main ingredient in soups and bake and served like other plants in the squash family. Even its seeds are roasted and used as a healthy snack food. A quick browse on the internet can obtain many more recipes for this versatile food.

Pumpkins have many other uses. A familiar one is the carving of jack-o-lanterns a traditional item of Halloween. There are many pumpkin carving competitions throughout the United States and some of the carvings are truly amazing. There are even pumpkin growing competitions where the aim is to grow the largest pumpkins. They can grow pumpkins to the enormous size of over 1,800 pounds! Probably the weirdest use of pumpkins is the growing sport of “pumpkin chucking” where contestants create various mechanical devices to hurl a pumpkin through the air for the longest distance.

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Sunflowers – Presented By Avas Flowers

The Sunflower (Helianthus annus) is a native annual plant to the Americas. It has a large flowering head and its name evolved from its shape and color. Sunflower seeds were introduced into Europe during the sixteenth century where they along with sunflower oil became widely used in cooking.

Sunflowers have a long history, it is generally believed that they were first domesticated around 5,000 years ago. They were used by many indigenous Americans, including the Aztecs and Incas as symbols of their sun gods.

Besides their use a decorative and beautiful flowers, sunflowers have many other commercial uses. Their seeds, roasted or raw, seasoned or unseasoned are sold as a healthy snack food. Their seeds can also be used to create sunflower butter. One of the main uses of the seeds however is in the production of sunflower oil which is widely used in cooking and even as an ingredient in bio-diesel. The cake left over from the processing of the seeds is even used for animal feed. Avas Flowers celebrates this beautiful and useful plant.

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The Jack-o’-lantern

A Jack-o’-lantern is not just a carved pumpkin but can also be a turnip or beet. They are chiefly associated with Halloween, and named after the strange lights that flicker over peat bogs, named will-o’-the-wisp or jack-o’-lanterns. Typically the the top is cut off and the inside hollowed out. Then the image, usually a scary face of some kind is carved out and the lid replaced. In America the pumpkin is used almost exclusively while in Britain turnips and beets are used.

Jack-o’-lanterns were carved in the 19th in parts of Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland and were carved in grotesque faces to represent spirits and goblins. In the 20th century this practice spread to other parts of England. The carved pumpkin made its first recorded Halloween appearance in the United States in 1866. Why is it called a Jack-o’-lantern. It is based on numerous stories in which a character named Jack outwitted the devil and imprisoned him in some way. In return for his release the devil promised not to take Jack’s soul, so when Jack died he did not go to hell but was not good enough for heaven either. Jack had no place to go, the devil gave him a burning ember that would never go out, so Jack carved out a turnip and put the ember in it. Now he wanders endlessly seeking rest and was called Jack of the Lantern.

Today pumpkins are carved into all sorts of wondrous patterns and their are many competitions.

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The Mighty Corpse Flower

One of the strangest and largest flowers in the world is Amorphaphallus Titanum better known as the corpse flower. The flower can reach over 8 ft in height. It emits an odor that is similar to that of rotting meat, hence its name. It also generates heat which along with its smell attracts its chief pollinators, the dung and carrion beetles as well as corpse flies. The plant is native to Sumatra, Indonesia but is grown in botanical gardens around the world.

The plant does not have an annual or even a regular blooming cycle. The plant only blooms when it has stored enough energy. This can take a few years or over a decade depending on conditions. Recently one of these giants bloomed at the US Botanical Gardens Conservatory in July 2013. It attracted large audiences over 130,000 people saw it live and over 650,000 viewed it via the live web stream.

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