Trail in Namibia Trail in Namibia

Wildflower Puzzle

What direction are we facing in the picture above?


Very little in nature is symmetrical. Not even the sun.

Our natural navigation ability blossoms when we start noticing asymmetries and then working out the reason for them.

Why has a tree grown more on one side than another?

Why are the grasses bent one way only?

Why are the flowers facing one way?

Why are there bright lichens on only one side of this wall?

If we look at the picture above, we see a roughly even distribution of wildflowers on either side of the path (slightly more on the left low down, but slightly more on the right high up). This is not just beautiful, but actually quite rare. It is a sign of roughly equal levels of sunlight hitting each side, which in turn is a clue that we are looking either north or south.

If we were walking east or west, then there would be many more wildflowers on one side (east – left side, west – right side).

On closer inspection, a helpful asymmetry is there, the flowers are facing towards us; look at the red campion at the bottom left of the picture. We are facing north.