Echinaceas and Einstein: Fibonacci Sequence in the garden

Who knew?

There is magic in the arrangement of those beautiful coneflowers, sunflowers, pinecones, pineapples…even the Nautilus shell which has nothing to do with botany but I thought you’d want to know. Look intently at the cone of the so-called coneflower. Have you ever seen such incredible symmetry? Simply amazing, you say? No, its math. The natural world (I won’t touch the man made world) is ordered by the laws of math and nature and systems. This symmetry in plants, gentle reader, is the so called Fibonacci Sequence.

coneflower rightsize

(Photo from

Flowers with petals, and cones, seedheads, seashells, artichokes and even honeybees’ family trees can be arranged according to the Fibonnaci seqeuence of numbers, 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,144 and so forth. This arrangement was noticed and documented by Leonardo Pisano of Italy in Medieval times, about 1202 AD.

the flower of an artichoke, glorious in design

the flower of an artichoke, glorious in design

Courtesy Matt Wallenstein, 2004.

look at the pattern of the seeds

look at the pattern of the seeds

In plants, new cells develop with the presence of sunlight, this arrangement of leaves allows sunlight to reach the plant at the base, the old leaves never obscuring the light needed for photosynthesis and plant creation. Iris and lilies have three petals. Some lilies have 2 sets of 3 or 6 petals. Buttercups, wild roses and larkspur, columbine have 5, eight for delphiniums and all the way to the asteracea family members, Michaelmas daisies with 89 petals.

Now I ask you, can this be filed under the Amazing Universe We Live In?

For more info: Cornell University.