Wednesday, July 20, 2011


From an engineering perspective, sunflowers are an awesome plant.  About 2 months ago, I dug a few holes, dropped in a few seeds, and then more or less forgot about them.  I forgot about them so much that I even killed a few with RoundUp the following week.

So they're hardy, they grow impressively fast, and they're freaking huge.  The label on the little packet of seeds said "12 feet tall" which I initially dismissed as marketing mumbo-jumbo.  But, no, some of them really do grow to 12 feet tall in less than 2 months.  And the leaves track the sun in their thirst for more juice from the sun.

And the flowers (actually, technically, they're flower heads, as the big yellow thing is actually a bunch of small flowers crammed together) are a marvel of engineering.  According to the wikipedia article:

  • Each floret is oriented next to its neighbor by the golden angle, 137.5 degrees;
  • The orientation gives rise to a series of right-handed and left-handed spirals within the flower head;
  • The number of left spirals and the number of right spirals are successive Fibonacci numbers;
  • The pattern yields the most efficient packing density of seeds in the flower head.

All of which combines to form one really cute picture:


One last note: May 1st is the International Guerrilla Gardening Day, where people surreptitiously plant sunflowers hither and yon.  Hilarious.  I might just be an active participant next year.

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