Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Sunflowers Co-operate to Get More Space and More Sunshine

Image courtesy of North Carolina Department of Transportation, (CC BY 2.0).

Joel Kontinen

Charles Darwin called the origin of flowering plants an abominable mystery as they did not fit in well with his naturalistic thinking.

Flowers appear suddenly and fully formed in the fossil record. Even the earliest flowers look very modern.

New research has shown that sunflowers know how to work together in a way that benefits all of them. Antonio Hall, a crop eco-physiologist at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and colleagues noticed a strange zig zag pattern that

starts early in growth, when one ‘pioneer’ plant leans about 10 degrees from the vertical to escape a neighbour’s shade. The plants on either side of the pioneer sense the change to their own light and lean in the opposite direction to escape the pioneer’s shade, and the alternation cascades outwards.”

This way, sunflowers were able to produce 25 to 50 per cent more seeds than those that couldn’t use this strategy.

Intelligent solutions like these remind us of the Designer, the God of the Bible, who is perfect in all His deeds.

Design features in sunflowers and other flowers challenge naturalistic explanations.

So do the amazing traits we see in trees: they sleep and make self-assembling solar panels.


Holmes, Bob. 2017. Sunflowers work together to avoid overcrowding and soak up rays. New Scientist (10 July).