Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

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

Why plants grow in very hot or very cold areas from Edison NJ
October 06, 2013 - Why can some plants grow where very cold or very hot?
view the full question and answer

Definition of what constitutes a native plant
January 23, 2007 - Hello, I am doing research concerning "native plants" for the Northeast. I am "befuddled" as I am finding conflicting definitions for what constitutes a native plant. Do you have a good definiti...
view the full question and answer

Is Esperanza a deciduous or an evergreen plant?
March 08, 2009 - I've read that Esperanza/Tecoma Stans is an evergreen. I planted one last year that seemed very healthy, but it dropped its leaves in late fall and looks (at least) dormant now. Will it come back o...
view the full question and answer

Seed for Kosteletzkya virginica, salt marsh mallow
January 13, 2009 - I have a nursery in North Carolina. We are looking for a reliable seed source for kosteletzkya virginica salt marsh mallow. We are www.campbellfamilynursery.com
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.