Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

School project on acid rain effects on plants from Austin
October 18, 2013 - Hi I go to an Austin high school and I am doing a project on how acid rain affects plant growth. I am wondering if you know any plants that would be more or less susceptible to acid rain for this proj...
view the full question and answer

Night-flowering plant that blooms every five years
September 20, 2008 - What plant flowers every five years at night?
view the full question and answer

Smog-eating plants from Ft. Worth TX
September 30, 2012 - Looking for a list (40 >) of Native Texas Plants for Fort Worth Urban (Condo) that are Drought tolerant or (drip irr) and Fragrant and long blooming and eat up the city smog. Fort Worth is in a non-at...
view the full question and answer

Science Fair Question
December 12, 2011 - Dear Mr Smarty Plants, I'm working on a project for the science fair and I need to find a plant that can survive in all climates in order for my experiment to work. What plant should I use? I hope ...
view the full question and answer

USDA Hardiness Zones
January 22, 2015 - Some natives are listed as ZONE 3 - 7. Would they be ok in zone 9. I thought the zones related to cold hardiness. What does the higher number mean, exactly?
view the full question and answer

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