A Collision-based Model of Spiral Phyllotaxis

Deborah R. Fowler¹ ², Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz¹, and Johannes Battjes³

¹Department of Computer Science
University of Calgary

²Department of Computer Science
University of Regina

³Hugo de Vries Laboratory
University of Amsterdam


Plant organs are often arranged in spiral patterns. This effect is termed spiral phyllotaxis. Well known examples include the layout of seeds in a sunflower head and the arrangement of scales on a pineapple. This paper presents a method for modeling spiral phyllotaxis based on detecting and eliminating collisions between the organs while optimizing their packing. In contrast to geometric models previously used for computer graphics purposes, the new method arranges organs of varying sizes on arbitrary surfaces of revolution. Consequently, it can be applied to synthesize a wide range of natural plant structures.

Keywords: realistic image synthesis, modeling of plants, spiral phyllotaxis, flower head, cactus.


Deborah R. Fowler, Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz, and Johannes Battjes. A Collision-based Model of Spiral Phyllotaxis. Proceedings of SIGGRAPH '92 (Chicago, Illinois, July 26-31, 1992), In Computer Graphics, 26, 2, (July 1992), ACM SIGGRAPH, New York, pp. 361-368.

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