Photograph of a someone counting the spirals on a sunflower

Turing’s Sunflowers

Professor Jonathan Swinton, who led on the study, has now re-checked all of the sunflower pictures and data sent in by growers and, with the project coordinator, Dr Erinma Ochu, published the findings and the dataset in the academic Journal, Royal Society Open Science, which anyone can download.

Excitingly, in addition to finding sunflowers with Fibonacci numbers, in a few cases seedheads with non-Fibonacci numbers or ‘nearly’ Fibonacci numbers were discovered.

This paper, not only includes sunflower pictures submitted by you, the growers, but also provides a new dataset, which will allow theoretical explanations of Fibonacci phyllotaxis to be tested.

The challenge now will be to create mathematical models of how sunflowers grow to take into account the rare exceptions to Fibonacci patterns.

We really want to thank every single grower who submitted data, pictures, cake and photographic exhibitions.

To learn more about our Turing Sunflowers experiment, visit the website at

View video: Turing’s Sunflowers - Growing Alan Turing’s legacy