En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


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
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


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


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

Frasera speciosa

Scarlet gilia
Ipomopsis aggregata

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

Plants adding calcium to soil
June 08, 2006 - Hi, I am looking for a resource to help determine the functions of native plants. For instance, nitrogen fixing can be found in Indigo, Lead plant, lupines. Are there other plants that add back cal...
view the full question and answer

Do plants grow faster in natural or artificial light?
March 13, 2009 - Do you think plants will grow faster in natural light or artificial light or a combination of both? And why do you think that. and need your answer for my biology project please and thank you for your...
view the full question and answer

Experiment to detect presence of sugar in cellulose from Routt CO
January 28, 2013 - My teacher ask me to plan an experiment to detect the presence of sugar in cellulose. I know that cellulose are abundant at the stem, and sugar here is glucose. I wonder how to conduct this experiment...
view the full question and answer

A garlic plant with only one clove in Ft. Worth, TX?
August 08, 2011 - Is there a garlic that does not have cloves? I have been using what appears to be garlic from my garden and it is garlicy, hot and delicious. I have spent many hours online but cannot find this garlic...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center