Phyllotactic patterns on plants

Patrick D. Shipman, Alan C. Newell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


We demonstrate how phyllotaxis (the arrangement of leaves on plants) and the deformation configurations seen on plant surfaces may be understood as the energy-minimizing buckling pattern of a compressed shell (the plant's tunica) on an elastic foundation. The key new idea is that the strain energy is minimized by configurations consisting of special triads of almost periodic deformations. We reproduce a wide spectrum of plant patterns, all with the divergence angles observed in nature, and show how the occurrences of Fibonacci-like sequences and the golden angle are natural consequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168102
Number of pages1
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 23 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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