Around the Block: Sunflower Plains

Not that plain at all!

As you explore Minecraft’s overworld, you’ll occasionally come across something rather special – a plains biome filled with bright yellow sunflowers. Our developers worked really hard on this one, so we recruited a huge team of naming experts to come up with a good name for it. The best they were able to manage was “sunflower plains”, so they were all immediately fired. It therefore brings me no pleasure to inform you that “sunflower plains” is the name of our biome of the month.

Sunflower plains were added to Minecraft in 2013 as part of The Update that Changed the World. Trees began to grow there in the Frostburn Update in 2016, and cornflowers started to sprout in the Village & Pillage Update. Otherwise, they’re pretty much the same as they were way back in 2013.

The sunflower plains biome is a pretty smart place to set up home. They’re wide open so you’ll be able to spot any nasties approaching and won’t have to do too much terraforming. There are trees here and there, which you can use for building materials. Plus the sunflowers serve as a handy compass – always pointing eastward, making navigation easier.

In terms of fauna, there are horses, donkeys, bees, as well as the usual farm animals. But be wary at night for zombies, spiders, skeletons, and creepers – a fence around your property, lit up with torches, is an excellent way to keep these beasts at bay (and prevent your animals from escaping at the same time). Finally, in Minecraft: Bedrock Edition, you’ll find villages and pillager outposts in this biome. So be a little more cautious when exploring.

Sunflowers in the real world have the scientific name Helianthus annuus. They resemble their Minecraft cousins pretty closely but grow even taller – up to three meters tall in normal conditions. The Guinness Book of World Records, however, lists the tallest ever sunflower as an incredible 9.17 meters – taller than a two-story house. Impressive!

As noted above, Minecraft’s sunflowers always face east. But in the real world, things aren’t quite so simple. Real sunflowers tilt during the day to track the sun while they’re young but stop when they start blooming, settling into a roughly easterly direction once they’re mature – perfect to catch the first rays of the morning sun. 

Humans have come up with plenty of ways to use these enormous, beautiful plants. They’re used widely in food production – sunflower oil is popular for cooking, and so are sunflower seeds as a snack. Sunflowers have also been used to decontaminate polluted ground – they suck up toxins like lead, arsenic, and uranium. 

So next time you’re wandering through one of Minecraft’s sunflower plains biomes, you can rest assured that all the toxins in the soil will have been removed by all the beautiful sunflowers. Thanks, sunflowers!

Duncan Geere
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Duncan Geere
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