by Julie J. Rehmeyer
The seeds of a sunflower, the spines of a cactus, and the bracts of a pine cone all grow in whirling spiral patterns. Remarkable for their complexity and beauty, they also show consistent mathematical patterns that scientists have been striving to understand.
Scientists are trying to understand the relationship of this beautiful display of complexity and
in 1868. German botanist Wilhelm Hofmeister was studying the growing tips of plants, which contain cells that haven't yet acquired a particular function in the plant. These unformed cells are called stem cells in plants and, derivatively, in animals as well. The stem cells form tiny bumps called primordia, which then turn into flowers, stems, or other plant structures.
The primordia form in a small region at the tip of a stem. Hofmeister proposed that the precise spot in which they form within that region is the spot that is furthest from older primordia. The primordia then move outward and downward along the stem as the tip continues to grow.
Is this amazing?