math in nature

Math in Nature

Today’s Post Brought to You by the Number 5 and my Hoya Plant

I’m fascinated by math in nature. I’m drawn to patterns of all sorts — especially fractals — and I often find myself subconsciously subitizing as I walk along the creek path, checking for interesting formations I observe on plants, animals, rocks, clouds, rivulets, and other creations of Mother Nature.

Fives are cool. I come from a family of 5 (2 parents + 2 sisters + me). There are 5 elements in nature (earth, water, fire, air, ether). I have 5 phalanges on each of my limbs (to channel Phoebe Buffet). We high 5 and we gimme 5 we hang 5 and we work til 5. When it all gets to be too much we take 5.

And in late April/early May, my pentacle-oriented hoya (wax plant) starts to bud.

Looks like the hoya operates on a base 5. #penduncle #hoya #waxplant #mathinnature #abouttobloom

A photo posted by Lori Lavender Luz (@lavluz) on

Within a few days,the buds morph into blooms.

Bloomin’. #hoya #waxplant #flowers #buds #blossoms #nature #mathinnature #blooming #plant #pink #spring

A photo posted by Lori Lavender Luz (@lavluz) on

Eventually the metamorphosis is complete and the peduncles (a word which sounds a lot worse than it is) fully sport their blossoms.


My #hoya is wishing me happy Mother’s Day. #waxplant #smellsgood


A photo posted by Lori Lavender Luz (@lavluz) on

Hoya blossoms smell good, too, and I admit I’ve tasted the nectar. Pleasing to at least 3 of my 5 senses.

More Math in Nature

For more on sand dollars, rabbits, Fibonacci, apple cores, the Vitruvian Man, and the golden mean, visit StaciAnne Grove.


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10 thoughts on “Math in Nature”

  1. My three year old delightedly told me that she has ten fingers, which is lucky because we count in tens! I wonder how different human maths would have been if we didn’t have five fingers on each hand…

  2. Subitizing… good word 🙂

    Hoya means “what” or “such.” I was trying to think of a synonym with five letters but failed.

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a hoya plant. Beautiful!!
    My son is learning to him the number 5 signifies “many” or “more than he can count”. (And the number 4 just doesn’t exist.)

  4. I used to have a hoya back in the 80s. When the flowers bloomed, the scent was very strong, and though I liked it, I did start to get hay fever, so it was banished. Thanks for the memories.

    Oh – and I’m from a family of three girls too. (I’m the middle one.) I haven’t met many people who might understand those dynamics.

  5. Love it! My husband the engineer is all about number patterns and fractals in nature. That hoya plant is AMAZING! I’ve never heard of or seen such a thing before, and now I kinda want one. Are they easy to take care of? I have a ridiculously green thumb outside but can kill the easiest-care houseplant dead in record time. I really think I need a hoya plant though. Thanks for sharing the metamorphoses! So cool.

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