seed head logo

Seed Head


  1. Pick a number between 0.0 and 1.0 (like .25) and type it into the "turn per seed" text field.
  2. Click the "Start" button.
  3. Watch what happens.
  4. Try typing in different numbers or using the "pi", "e", and "phi" buttons.
  5. You can stop the simulation by clicking "Stop", and restart it again by clicking "Start".
  6. You can change the "time factor" to make the simulation run faster or slower, but you'll have to restart the simulation for it to take effect.
  7. Read the explanation below to understand what the heck this is all about.
There should be a Java applet here.


It turns out that when a sunflower generates florets (which turn into seeds) on its head, it creates each one in the center. When a floret is created, it has a certain orientation, and as new florets are created in the center, the older ones are pushed to the outside, each one going in the direction that it was pointing when it was created. So how is a floret's orientation determined? Nature prefers simple mechanisms over complex ones, and in this case, it turns out that each new floret is rotated at a precise angle to the previous one. This angle is the same for every floret on every sunflower in the world. In fact, you'll find this angle employed in countless other flowers and plants of every type.

You may have noticed that "phi" seems to distribute the dots (or seeds) the most evenly, and this is in fact the number that nature uses. Also known as the golden number, golden ratio, or golden section, phi has been used by nature since the beginning of time, and by humans in art and architecture since at least the time of the ancient Greeks. For a much more detailed exploration of phi and everything related to it, you can visit this web site: Fibonacci Numbers and the Golden Section.

If you're wondering why I built this applet, I was going to give a presentation on the golden ratio and fibonacci sequence, and I thought this would be an interesting visual aid. It was also fun to build.