Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
1 rating

Saturday - September 20, 2008

From: Austerlitz, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: General Botany
Title: Night-flowering plant that blooms every five years
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What plant flowers every five years at night?

ANSWER:

OK, Mr. Smarty Plants gives up—what plant flowers at night but only every five years?

We know of several night-blooming native flowers, for example:

Acanthocereus tetragonus (barbed-wire cactus) is found in Texas and Florida and blooms mid-summer to fall.

Peniocereus greggii (nightblooming cereus) is found in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona and flowering spring through summer.

Ipomoea alba (moonflower) is found in Kansas, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida.

Oenothera macrocarpa ssp. macrocarpa (Missouri primrose) (syn. Oenothera missouriensis) occurs in the central U. S.

Mirabilis multiflora (Colorado four o'clock) occurs in the southwest U. S.

But, so far as Mr. SP knows, each of these bloom every year, given normal environmental conditions.

There are any number of native biennial plants (for instance, the thistles in the Genus Cirsium) that bloom the second year after germinating and there are several native monocarpic plants (they bloom once, then die—see the answer to a previous question) that bloom after the plants are several years old (the century plants—Agave americana and Agave parryi, for instance).  Another native plant that lives a long time before it blooms is Frasera speciosa (monument plant) which may wait for 20 to 40 years before it blooms and dies.  Many of these plants may bloom simultaneously.  This same phenomenon also happens with the non-native bamboo species that may bloom only every 40 to 80 years.

So—I do not know of any native North American plant that is night-blooming and flowers every five years, nor could I find any non-native plant with these features.  If you know of one, or if you have any more information about such a plant, please let us know.

 

More General Botany Questions

What caused purple heartwood in my Tuliptree?
June 15, 2009 - My Tulip tree was hit by lightning and all bark from the base of the tree up to 50 feet was blown off. The tree also sustained a significant crack through the trunk. When the tree was cut down, we...
view the full question and answer

Gardening books for Austin and Central Texas
June 09, 2008 - Hi, I'm looking for a book for my wife. She is a beginning gardener here in Austin. Do you know of an ideal book or two that covers vegetable gardening and gardening in general in Austin/Central Tex...
view the full question and answer

Restoring the woods in Central Austin.
May 08, 2012 - I live in Austin, south central between Red Bud trail close to the low water bridge and Bee Caves road. My question: I want to make the wooded sections of my yard attractive. They have filtered sun...
view the full question and answer

Consumption of carbon dioxide from South Korea
December 07, 2011 - I am curious about what flowers consume CO2 for growing (especially 1-year life flower). Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Ruffly foliage on native lantana
November 05, 2013 - A native lantana in my front yard has developed ruffly foliage on one stem. It looks like miniature broccoli. What can this be?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.