Two smaller images depict common plants that were important to the development of botany in the period surrounding the design of the Academy dome. The sunflower facing the sun may represent the invigoration of European botany by the wealth of specimens that flowed in from other lands. A native of the Americas, the sunflower swept into Europe in the sixteenth century and rapidly became a popular ornamental, medicinal, and food plant. In the eighteenth century it similarly spread widely through Russia, but was relatively neglected in the United States. When the Academy dome was designed, the sunflower was at the height of a recent American renaissance. It is one of the fastest moving of all plants, and was erroneously thought to rotate and track the sun through the day (this is true only at one early stage of its development). It was also at this time a very popular plant for practical botany and agriculture, and may represent the societal utility of plant science, much as the pea plant represents its utility for theory.