Open source software for numerical computation

Skip to main content

GreenScilab: A toolbox simulating plant growth and architecture

By Paul‐Henry COURNEDE, INRIA Saclay – Île‐de‐France

GreenScilab is a Scilab(c) toolbox simulating plant growth and architecture based on the GreenLab model (De Reffye and Hu, 2003). This type of model combining the description of both plant functional growth and architectural development is receiving more and more attention for applications in agriculture, forestry, ecology or computer graphics (De Reffye et al., 2008). Most models are purely simulation-based and rely on very heavy computations: the morphogenesis and functioning of each organ is simulated. The simulation times are quickly prohibitive and make such models ill-adapted to calibration from experimental data or to solve optimization problems.

In this context, GreenLab's originality is its mathematical formulation as a discrete dynamic system based on the structural factorization of the growth grammar (Cournède et al., 2006), in order to take advantage of the numerous similarities and repetitions in plants. Scilab provides a free, efficient and easy-to-use environment to implement the dynamic equations of plant growth. GreenScilabis thus born, being the first open-source software that fulfills model simulation and calibration. It can simulate different botanical plant architectures, plant growth processes, the effects of climate conditions on plant growth, and calibrate the model from experimental data on real plants. A graphical user interface is developed using TCL/TK to facilitate model I/O. Some functions are written in C to speed up simulation.


  • De Reffye P, Hu BG, 2003. Relevant qualitative and quantitative choices for building an efficient dynamic plant growth model: GreenLab case. In Hu BG, Jaeger M (Eds), Plant growth modelling and applications (PMA03), Proceedings of the 2003' International Symposium on Plant Growth Modeling, Simulation, Visualization and Their ApplicationsTsinghua University Press, Springer; pp. 87-107.
  • De Reffye P, Heuvelink E, Barthélémy D, Cournède PH, 2008. Plant growth models. In: Jorgensen S, Fath B (Eds.), Ecological Models, Vol. 4 of Encyclopedia of Ecology (5 volumes), Elsevier (Oxford), pp. 2824–2837.
  • Cournède PH, Kang MZ, Mathieu A, Barzci JF, Yan HP, Hu BG, De Reffye P, 2006. Structural factorization of plants to compute their functional and architectural growth. /Simulation /82(7): 427-438.