I'm reading a bit on the Fibonacci sequence in nature, be it the golden ratio or the golden spiral forming over and over again in biological structures, and then I came across this online article by Donald E. Simanek, refuting a lot of these observations as merely optimistic 'flim flam'.

So which is true?

Does the Fibonacci sequence have a place in nature or is it all just a case of vigorously looking for anything that resembles a correlation?

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    $\begingroup$ Search for Vi Hart on Youtube. She makes educational and oddly entertaining math videos and she has one about plants displaying both Fibonacci and Lucas numbers as a way to maximize sunlight reception by the leaves. $\endgroup$
    – yelx
    Jan 26, 2013 at 2:24
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    $\begingroup$ I mean, I'm curious too, and Vi's video is all I've heard about this correlation. I'm not asserting she's right, just that you might enjoy it. The video is called Doodling in Math: Spirals, Fibonacci, and Being a Plant. $\endgroup$
    – yelx
    Jan 26, 2013 at 2:26
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks I'll give them a watch, I remember watching an entertaining one she did on the nature of infinity I think. $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Jan 26, 2013 at 2:31
  • $\begingroup$ Didn't the Fibonacci sequence arise when modeling the dynamics of rabbit populations? $\endgroup$ Apr 13, 2020 at 9:28

1 Answer 1


As far as I remember, Fibonacci patterns emerge in plants from hormone gradients. I.e. an apical meristem forms a leaf where the auxin concentration is highest, and already existing leafs lower auxin concentration, leading to some negative feedback.

See e.g. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1360138507000581

or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phyllotaxis

  • $\begingroup$ I'm aware of how these patterns are seemingly formed, what the question is asking is whether these patterns are indeed examples of proper mathematical Fibonacci sequences or if they merely bear resemblance. $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Feb 5, 2013 at 17:17
  • $\begingroup$ The pattern forming processes generate a fibonnachi pattern, but there are other processes that occur as well. $\endgroup$
    – Abe
    Mar 7, 2013 at 6:36

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