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Chapter 2. Fibonacci Numbers > Fibonacci Phyllotaxis

Fibonacci Phyllotaxis

Fibonacci Phyllotaxis is the discipline of studying and classifying the number of visible spirals, called parastichies, of flowers and seed growth patterns within plants. Most commonly, various plants grow seeds or leaves in patterns of successive elements exactly related to the Fibonacci sequence. A survey of plants of 650 species and 12,500 specimens displaying spiral or multiple phyllotaxis estimated that about 92% of them have Fibonacci Phyllotaxis. (R. V. Jean, Phyllotaxis: A Systemic Study in Plant Morphogenesis [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994]).

On many plants, the number of petals is a Fibonacci number. For example, buttercups have 5 petals, lilies have 3 petals, some delphiniums have 8, and daisies can be found with 34, 55, or even 89 petals. Fibonacci numbers can also be seen in the arrangement of seeds on flower heads. Sunflower seed heads, which grow in a defined outward series, typically possess either 34, 55, or 89 spirals. Cactus spines and pinecones show the same spirals as other seed head and leaf arrangements, but they are much more clearly visible.


  

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