Astonishing Plant Patterns Bring The Fibonacci Sequence to Life

How patterns in nature and mathematics intersect producing awe for children and adults, alike!

succulent showing a spiraling pattern of its leaves
Image by MoneyforCoffee from Pixabay

Today is 11/23. These numbers are the start of the famed Fibonacci Sequence, named for the Italian mathematician who discovered the pattern centuries ago. In the sequence, the next number is found by adding the two previous numbers that came before.

The sequence starts with zero and goes from there infinitely.

The Fibonacci sequence begins with the following 14 integers: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233 …(

The sequence is also very close to what’s known as the golden ratio (1.618). If you take any two consecutive numbers in the Fibonacci sequence, their ratio is very close to the golden ratio. The bigger the numbers, the closer to the golden ratio one gets (

Why is this important? The golden ratio is used in things like architecture and is also found occurring in nature. This is what interested me and my garden club students. How can we see the Fibonacci Sequence in nature?


Many flowers have petals in patterns that are one of the Fibonacci numbers. For example, lilies have 3 petals, buttercups have 5, and daisies have 34 — all Fibonacci numbers. Surprisingly, nature has figured out that the number and arrangement of petals help with the plants’ survival. It’s the ideal shape!

Seed Heads

One of the most common examples of the Fibonacci Squence is the Sunflower seed arrangement. The seed heads are spiraled from the center outward in numbers that fall within the Fibonacci pattern. There are two spirals one moving clockwise and one moving counterclockwise. Each set of spirals is a Fibonacci number like 34 or 21.

Sunflower seed head showing spiraling patterns
Image by Harald Landsrath from Pixabay

Pinecones exhibit this patterning too, as do succulents.



Carol Labuzzetta, MS Natural Resources, MS Nursing

Environmental educator with a passion for teaching youth using the science of awe. Traveler, Photographer, Author, Wife, Mother. Top Writer & Boosted Writer x3