I always find ways to key off Desiree Driesenaar’s articles. She’s my muse.

I share her love and wonderment for the natural world, people included. And I really love the mathematical lessons that mother nature gives to us. Especially with Fibonacci spirals.

Fred Ermlich
3 min readAug 11, 2020

As for Fibonacci poetry, I guess I’m too much in ‘analytical mode’ today to mangle what should be beautiful poetry. So I won’t even make the attempt.

But my analytical mood does let me explain in a slightly novel way how these spirals create natural miracles. This I can manage!

First, a mathematical tip that few people ever consider. The spirals, like on a sunflower or a tree seen from above, go in opposite directions. The mathematician in me wants to count them like this: -21, 13, -8, 5, -3, 2, -1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 . . . (going to the left you subtract; going right you add — it takes practice!) This extension to the negative realm is legitimate mathematics; why am I just about the only person who noticed that?

Well anyway, I guess it’s easy to see that it would be hard to write ‘negative poetry.’ Then again, I’ll bet someone takes this comment as a writing prompt! I wish you the best of luck with that.

Photo by Eric Hammett from Pexels

Trees, lovely trees seen from above. That’s really what I’m thinking about.

You can’t see the ground through them. That’s no accident. It would mean that sunlight could get through, and that’s not efficient. By the same means, the Fibonacci arrangement of branches and leaves directs dew or rainwater to the periphery of the canopy, because that’s where roots with root-hairs can use the moisture. (No root hairs near the trunk.) No person calculated this sort of arrangement: natural selection over millions or billions of years worked it out empirically!

Which is a good lesson for humans who have the hubris to think they can overpower nature.

I wish I were in a lyrical or artistic mood — I get frustrated by people’s arrogance and I get mad. I’ve gotta stop writing about existential stuff! Ah well . . . I can take some solace by gazing at sunflowers, broccoli, and trees.

I’ll close with an interesting observation.

By Timothy Honiss59 — Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75398420

Pink Floyd at Pompeii Amphitheater in 1971. Volcano in background(!) I’ve seen photos of the crowds here and a few other venues with flat seating. To see the band, audience members slide over to the left or right until nobody’s head blocks the view. Looking from a certain angle, I’ve noticed that they’ve self-arranged . . . yep, into a double Fibonacci spiral. They accomplished this empirically, without even knowing that that they were doing so!

Just like leaves on a tree, catching every photon coming down.



Fred Ermlich

Living in rural Panamá — non-extractive, non-capitalistic. Expat USA. Scientist, writer, researcher, teacher. STEM mentor +languages. Gargoylplex@protonmail.com