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?

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
    
 
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
1 rating

Thursday - October 06, 2005

From: Indianapolis, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: General Botany, Cacti and Succulents, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Monocarpic plants for Indiana
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We were in Hawaii this summer and became acquainted with the Silversword. This plant (according to what we were told) blooms only once in it's lifetime (of 50-70 years). Are you aware of any other plants that might be able to grow in Indiana that bloom infrequently (less than once a year)?

ANSWER:

Haleakala Silversword (Argyroxiphium sandwicense) does flower only once in its lifetime but that lifetime is only 15-50 years according to the National Biological Service. 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 dying. Some of the more notable examples, besides the Silversword, are the Century Plants, members of the Genus Agave, of the desert Southwest. Another spectacular example from the Southwest U. S. is the Monument Plant (Frasera speciosa). Still another beautiful plant in the western U.S. Scarlet Gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata) is monocarpic. Many bamboo species are also monocarpic and, additionally, all members of a particular bamboo species bloom simultaneously.

The monocarpic perennial plants that I found for Indiana aren't quite as spectacular, but are quite interesting, nonetheless. They are Sand Dune Thistle (Cirsium pitcheri), Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa), and Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) that may function as an annual, a biennial or sometimes a monocarpic perennial. There are doubtless more Indiana native plants that are also monocarpic perennials.

 

More General Botany Questions

Native North American bulbs
August 19, 2011 - I saw your list of 4 lilies native to the Northeastern United States, which was very helpful. What other bulbs are native to North America? Although I garden in Connecticut, I am interested in learn...
view the full question and answer

Halophytic biofilter plants native to Wisconsin
July 12, 2013 - I am trying to design a biofilter using native WI plants. These plants must be very salt tolerant and low maintenance (as this biofilter will be used to treat storm water runoff from a salt shed), so ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on aceae
March 21, 2005 - How is the family suffix "-aceae", as in Asteraceae, pronounced? I find disagreeing claims in my searches- "ay-see-ee" and "ay-see-ay" seem to be the most common, but I've also seen just "ay-...
view the full question and answer

How Do Persimmons Breed - Starkville, MS
August 14, 2012 - Thank you for your earlier response about the genders of native persimmon trees. We have two, a much larger one that has borne fruit for years and years and a smaller one that I'd just assumed was m...
view the full question and answer

Cold hardiness zones for plants from Jackson MS
October 02, 2010 - How to search the plant database by cold-hardiness zone? Is it possible to do combination search by zone (not just state?) With the information provided with plant, I do not see the zone listed. Ma...
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