Since modern man and woman walked the earth with the capability to question and comprehend the world and its universal laws, flowers have been the topic of much philosophizing. They are the epitome of beauty, the most celebrated of gifts, the subject of great poems and works of art, and metaphors for revealing our natural inner essence.
Consider this: Have you ever seen an ugly flower? Even a simple daisy is beautiful, and somehow perfect, in its design.
So, what is it that makes flowers universally pleasing to the human eye? Mathematicians, botanists, artists, astronomers, architects and even our own intuition may hold the answers.
In 1202, Italian mathematician Leonardo Pisano, better known by the name Fibonacci, wrote about a sequence of numbers that occurs when a number is equal to the addition of the two numbers prior––for instance, 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, and so on.
The Fibonacci sequence correlates to the discovery of this pattern and similar patterns throughout history, dating back to about 300 B.C. It has been called by many names: The Golden Mean, The Golden Ratio, The Divine Proportion and, in more recent centuries, by the mathematically divided ratios of these sequential numbers that equals 1.618, named phi, after the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet.
This sequence and this number are said to have the proportions that human beings consider to be aesthetically pleasing. Science has found phi more than anywhere in nature––in pinecones and pineapples, in cacti and conifers, in hurricanes and galaxies, in the branching of trees, in the spiral of nautilus seashells and, yes, in many flowers.
Botanists determine that a flower opens its petals to absorb the greatest amount of sunlight—and quite often the number of petals follows the Fibonacci sequence, having 3, 5 or 8 petals, for instance. Oftentimes, the head of a sunflower has this divine pattern in its number of seeds and the proportional formation in which the seeds spiral. The Golden Ratio can be found throughout nature, including in many of our fruits and vegetables––in the spiraling head of a cauliflower, in the pattern of an apple cut in half.
This mathematical equation can also be found in much of art and architecture, as it creates a sense of beautiful proportion and balance in the design. Another Leonardo––namely, da Vinci––is the artist most known for using this proportional ratio in his works and may have even intentionally incorporated it when creating “The Last Supper” and the famous “Mona Lisa.” Whether he intended it or intuited it, the Divine Proportion is there.
But its appearance throughout nature is what has scientists pondering its universal intelligence, its cosmic wisdom. You can even see the patterns in the human body. We have five fingers on each hand, three sections to our arms, and if you divide the length of the forearm by the length of a hand, it equals––you guessed it––about 1.618. Recent discoveries have gynecologists amazed that the most fertile uterus is one that has proportions correlating to 1.618.
Clearly, this mathematical intelligence is a part of our natural world. Though not all things in nature follow this pattern, there are enough examples of it that mankind has taken notice and has been contemplating it for millennia.
A fascinating question: Is there something within us as human beings that resonates with nature, in that we recognize its beauty, balance and cosmic intelligence? Those in the fields of science, math and art will continue to ponder this naturally occurring mystery.
And we will, too.
When we at Vitanova were deciding on the symbol that would best represent our company, we unanimously selected an eight-petaled flower, one that just happened to follow the Fibonacci sequence. We did not choose to incorporate the Golden Ratio into our logo, but that particular flower resonated with us because of its beauty and harmony. We also recognized that a flower is a metaphor for the blossoming of the human essence, a symbol of awakening and rebirth.
It wasn’t until later that we discovered its multi-faceted perfection: the balance, the beauty, the science, the botanical wisdom, and the power of those elements combined. Behold, the flower—that speaks to us of its universal secrets.