This Puzzling Flower Math Problem Has The Internet Stumped

by Rebecca Endicott
Becca is a writer and aspirational dog owner living in NYC.

Like most kids, I was never overly fond of math problems growing up.

As an adult, however, I find something compelling about the puzzling aspect of them!

I especially love the tricky brainteasers that go viral on social media every now and then, like this clever bus problem.

It’s interesting seeing how the adult mind processes a problem designed for kids, and comparing the strengths and weakness that both children and grown-ups bring to the riddle-like qualities of these challenges.

At the moment, there’s one puzzle in particular that blew up on social media and is now stumping people on just about every continent.

The problem in question replaces numbers with flowers and then has you solve a series of equations to determine the value of each flower.

It first took off on the Chinese social network Weibo, but now it has quickly spread across the globe, baffling just about everyone in its path.

Check out the problem below and see how quickly you can solve it!

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Ready to test your noodle? Here’s the puzzle: You have red flowers, blue flowers, and yellow flowers.

Each flower is worth a number value, but we don’t know what that value is or what the final answer is.

To get there, we have to calculate the value of each flower from the information given.

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The first row is fairly straightforward.

You have 3 red flowers added together for a sum of 60.

Since 60 divided by 3 is 20, you can safely calculate that each red flower has a value of 20.

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Things get a little bit more complicated in the second row. You need to use the information gleaned from the first equation.

The graphic tells us that 1 red flower, plus 1 blue flower, plus 1 more blue flower, adds up to 30.

We subtract the red flower’s value, 20, from 30, leaving us with 10.

Since we have two identical blue flowers, we divide that number in half, leaving us with a value of 5 for each blue flower.

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With the numbers from the previous two rows, the third equation is pretty simple.

We know that a blue flower minus the yellow flowers equals 3.

Since we also now know that the blue flower is worth 5, we can calculate that the yellow flowers are worth 2.

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Now, onto the final row, where things get really tricky.

If you’re like us, on the first try you used the value 2 for the yellow flower, 20 for the red, and 5 for the blue, and got a number.

Unfortunately, we got it wrong the first time!

If you think you have the answer, write it down, then click on the picture below to check your work.

Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

The real answer was 81! Here’s how we arrived at that conclusion.

First, using order of operations (otherwise known as “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally”) we know that we have to multiply the red flower and the blue flower first.

At first glance, that would be 20 x 5, for a value of 100.

But wait! The blue flower is missing 1 of its 5 petals.

That means that it only has a value of 4 and that the product of the equation is actually 80.

Now, all that’s left is to add the value of the yellow flower, but there’s a trick here, too.

There were 2 yellow flowers in the previous row. Now, there’s just one.

That means that the value is cut in half, from 2 to 1. Now, simply add that 1 to the 80 and you have the final answer, 81!

Let us know how you solved this problem and make sure to SHARE so your friends can try, too!