Golden Mean in Sunflowers

November 27, 2004

Golden-mean-sunflower copy

Provided and copyright by: Richard Morrison
Summary authors & editors: Richard Morrison

This closeup of a sunflower is a good illustration of a mathematical formula found throughout Nature, known as the Golden Mean or Golden Ratio. The ratio is 1.6180339887499...(represented by the Greek letter phi), a proportional value found in seashells, like the nautilus, and in many flowering plants. The ancient Greeks used this formula in designing buildings like the Parthenon. In this photo, taken last summer in Smithville, Tennessee, the Golden Mean is expressed in the two intersecting rows of seeds that arc around the center of the flower, creating the striking pattern.

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