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" Seek the truth and run from

those who claim to have found it "

after André Gide

Flowers of Hope and Healing

May 27th, 2014


I have posted here in the past about the ‘Living Machine’ – a system that uses wetland and water plants, bacteria and other organism in order to cleanse waste water and make it drinkable. On a related theme, I came across an article by Molly Cotter about plants being used to cleanse radioactive toxins form the ground near Fukushima, Japan. In the aftermath of the Nuclear disaster brought about by the Tsunami, millions of sunflowers have been planted to help soak up the toxins that have polluted the land.  The planting has been driven by Buddhist monks – Cotter writes,

Koyu Abe, chief monk at the Buddhist Joenji temple has been distributing sunflowers and their seeds to be planted all over Fukushima. The plants are known to soak up toxins from the soil, and patches of sunflowers are now growing between buildings, in backyards, alongside the nuclear plant, and anywhere else they will possibly fit. At least 8 million sunflowers and 200,000 other plants have been distributed by the Joenji Buddhist temple. “We plant sunflowers, field mustard, amaranthus and cockscomb, which are all believed to absorb radiation,” Abe says.


There is something moving about the thought of so many sunflowers – a plant that seems to glow with optimism and hope – growing amongst the devastation. Not only does it serve a practical purpose in helping to heal and cleanse the soil but it is in itself a message of hope that renewal is possible. To read the whole article click here


4 Responses to “Flowers of Hope and Healing”

  1. What an extraordinary and positive story. Plants hold the key to so much in our lives and yet we tend to take them for granted. How wonderful that Buddhist monks are leading the way in trying to deal with radiation that occurred after this most terrible event in Japan. Best wishes to them and to all those plants lending their services to the benefit of man.
    Bright Blessings

  2. Sunflowers are a good choice for that type of remediation because they quickly yield significant amounts of above-ground biomass, and through that process, they uptake radioisotopes which mimic ordinary soil nutrients. The tricky part is that the plants are then radioactive. Once they’ve flowered, they’re no longer producing much additional vegetative matter, and the sunflowers must be promptly destroyed. Otherwise, there’s the worrisome potential that birds will consume the mature seeds and redistribute the radiation. Even before that, I would imagine these fields are not the healthiest for pollinators. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a worthy approach, only that it’s a somewhat challenging project to manage well. Does anybody know how the Japanese are faring with this endeavor lately? The article is about three years old, and when I searched for updates this morning, I unfortunately couldn’t find any.

    Last year in the United States, we saw a dramatic eruption of prairie sunflowers in the Sandhills of Nebraska. Acre after acre of rangeland appeared to be nothing but monocrops of Helianthus petiolaris. Sunflowers were among the few species that thrived in the hot and dry weather of 2012. When the rains finally arrived in the spring of 2013, the plant litter from the previous season was thin on the ground. So the sunflower seeds that had been previously dropped received copious sunlight, and they germinated in spades! We’re still in a drought, but as conditions moderate, the perennials will make their comebacks, and increasingly diverse mixes of forbs will flower again.

    I would agree that there is much hope in fields of sunflowers, whether they are established by nature or by humans working in harmony with nature. I just wanted to elaborate a bit on the perspective that the beauty in this is more subtle and complex than might be immediately visible at the surface. From an ecological viewpoint, they constitute a sign that something is out-of-whack, but also that there is a dynamic movement underway to return toward better balance.

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