The Fibonacci Sequence As Seen in Flowers



Image: Mack Hall

What looks to us like a beautiful purple coneflower (echinacae purpurae)

We’ve all noticed beautiful patterns in nature: the clouds in the sky, rocks in a river, or waves in the ocean. Yet while some patterns seem random – the different colored flowers in a field, say – others are much less so – like the way the seeds are arranged in certain flower heads. In fact, it’s here that nature and mathematics intersect in a way that makes us wonder if everything in nature isn’t organized in a strictly mathematical way.

Here we’re going to be talking about the Fibonacci sequence in nature, with a little floral illustration to help guide us along. Follow us on a journey that will see us examine some ordinary flowers such that they suddenly appear extra-ordinary.


Image: Daaynos

This ladybug doesn’t seem to mind the spiky qualities of the coneflower head it’s on. Or maybe it’s simply mesmerized by the flower’s symmetry!

The Fibonacci sequence (pronounced fib-on-arch-ee) got its name from a mathematician of the Middle Ages, Leonardo of Pisa (c. 1170 – c. 1250). The alias “Fibonacci” is most likely the shortened form of the Latin “filius Bonacci,” meaning “son of Bonaccio,” for his father’s name was Guglielmo Bonaccio.

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