En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Is there a flower that blooms only once in seven years?

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
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
7 ratings

Wednesday - December 17, 2008

From: Bridgewater, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Best of Smarty, General Botany
Title: Is there a flower that blooms only once in seven years?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Just wanted to know if there exists a flower that blooms only once in seven years? Thank you!

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants has found the Himalayn lily (Cardiocrinum giganteum) that  flowers after seven years of growth. Here are photos of the Himalayan lily.  After it blooms the plant dies. Plants with this reproductive strategy are known as monocarpic, i.e., they flower and produce fruit only once in their lifetime and then die. All annuals and biennials are monocarpic, but there are also many perennial plants that are monocarpic.  Some of these may live for 90 years before flowering and then dying. Some of the more notable examples are the Agaves or Century Plants (e.g., Agave americana (American century plant) and Agave parryi (Parry's agave)) of the desert Southwest.  Another spectacular example from the southwestern U. S. is the Monument Plant (Frasera speciosa) and another beautiful plant in the western U.S. Scarlet Gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata) is also monocarpic.  In Hawaii Haleakala Silversword (Argyroxiphium sandwicense) flowers only once in its lifetime of 15-50 years. Many bamboo species are also monocarpic and, additionally, all members of a particular bamboo species bloom simultaneously.

 

From the Image Gallery


American century plant
Agave americana

Parry's agave
Agave parryi

Elkweed
Frasera speciosa

Scarlet gilia
Ipomopsis aggregata

More General Botany Questions

Trillium phototropism
May 16, 2010 - I'm SURE you haven't had this question before. I live in northern Michigan in a wooded subdivision where we have clouds of wild grandiflorum trilliums growing in the woods on either side of the roa...
view the full question and answer

Does Nolina lindheimeriana have separate male and female plants
June 30, 2013 - RE: NOLINA LINDHEIMERIANA You show several pictures, with flowers & with seed pods. I have one plant that has only flowers and one that has only seed pods. Are they male and female? I don't see ...
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

Consequences of overwatering plants
February 05, 2010 - Explain how an error on the high side when watering would affect soil fertility management, IPM efforts?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on air purification
September 14, 2005 - What plant purifies the air?
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center