Infrequent flowering-responses

Fri Jan 19 16:55:14 EST 1996

Thank you to everyone who responded to my request.

Several people were interested in knowing what plants flower infrequently,
so I've cut and pasted some of the responses I received together.  Thanks
Tim Metz

Bamboos (Bambusa spp.) generally flower once in 50-60 years; and century
plants (Agave americana) are known to flower once in 10-15 years. Such
species are called as perennial monocarpic species, because they live
longer than a few years but flower only once before they die. Most
monocarpic species are annuals. Bamboos are also known to show gregarious
flowering habit. There is also an interesting but not fully explained
association between the flowering of bamboos and explosion of rat
population in the north-eastern parts of India (Assam and Meghalaya

A precocious induction of flowering in bamboos was induced in vitro by a
group of researchers from the National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, India
(Nature, 1991, I believe).

I understand that Puya, in the Bromeliaceae, may grow for more than a
before flowering.  Also, Agave americana (century plant) does not flower
until 10-20 years old.

See page 380 of Introductory Plant Biology by Kingsley R. Stern, Wm C.
Brown Publishers. (Puya)

Some palms also are infrequent bloomers
as are some cacti, although the latter may be due to environmental
Several of the species of infrequent bloomers do so only once (might think
them as very slow annuals).  If this qualifies in your search, also think
the bamboos.

 Bamboo species (see paper by D. Janzen, "Why to bamboos wait so long
to flower, Am Nat, 1970s).
  Alpine senecios (papers by Truman Young)
  Agave  (papers? )
  Frasera (D. Inouye)

 Also duckweed 
(Lemnma sp.) flower infrequently,

Timothy D. Metz
Assistant Professor of Biology
metz at

Biology Department                               Faculty Advisor
Campbell University                              Alphi Phi Omega
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Buies Creek, NC 27506
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