Photo by Melody

Definition of monocarpic

Categorized under "General"

Definition as written by Terry:

A plant that dies after flowering, although it may take several years to flower. A typical example is the Century Plant (Agave americana) which can take 50+ years to bloom.

Should not be confused with the term monocarpous which refers to an ovary of a single carpel

Definition as written by talinum:

Flowering and fruiting only once before dying; such plants may take several years to reach flowering size.

Definition as written by loungelizard:

The Agave salmiana var. crassispina normaly flowers once
after about 50 odd years, after which it has pups, this was
true for the one that my mother had.

But, I am told that the pups have started to flower aswell,
so maybe the 50 year thing is true for established plants.

a 25 foot spike shoots up from the center with the flower

at the end, after which you will get big pods full of

Also I have obsered pups growing around the base, even
before the flowering.

Definition as written by Magpye:

Flowering and fruiting once then dying.

Definition as written by stainglassman:

These plants have several small offshoots within the first year of planting. They can pop up 15 feet or more away from the original plant. At least here in Sarasota Florida. I have given many babies away, all with great results. Extremely hardy plant.

Definition as written by cactustom:

I don't agree the donkey ear is moncarpic (dies after blooming). The plant in the pot here, deep in South Central Texas, had a flower shoot almost 3 ft high, blooomed out. I cut back the flower and the plant started growing again. I have one in my cactus garden, that is 33" across at its widest point and is almost 1 foot high. It's the easiest plant that I have to grow.

Thumbnail of monocarpic by cactustom
(Click for full-size)

Definition as written by alexgr1:

In the island of Puerto Rico the Calabash Tree begins to flower at a very young age, producing fruit through the year, not dying.

Definition as written by SuburbanNinja80:

The plant flowers then meets the Angel of Death or dies. I like how i said it those.

Definition as written by palmbob:

There are macroscopic definitions and microscopic definitions... in other words, macroscopically, most of the above definitions are spot on... but microscopically, more may be going on than meets the eye.

Probably a more accurate definition of monocarpic would be to say it is when the meristem, or growth center of a plant, or of a branch (if there are multiple growth centers or meristems), only produces a reproductive structure (aka flower) ONCE, after which time that meristem tissue ceases to function and no more growth (particularly reproductive) occurs from that center.

This may seem awfully picky, but many plants are considered 'polycarpic' (the opposite of monocarpic) in the more broad sense that the plant does not die after flowering, but are more precisely monocarpic because the meristem only produces a single flower and IT dies... and a new meristem supsequently forms from a 'branch' (sometimes right near the point of the previous meristem and sometimes in such a fasion that an actual branch is not visible macroscopically, but only microscopically) forms and new growth continues from there.

Some monocarpic plants that continue to live on may produces suckers, branches or other rosettes that will make a flower in the future, but the rosette or branch that made a flower already will die (albeit not necessarily immediately... could be a days, months or even a year down the road). So one could say the plant overall is polycarpic in appearance, but the reproductive meristem is still truly monocarpic.

For example, many genera of the family Agavaceae are considered polycarpic in that they flower and continue to grow... but more precisely (and scientifically... per the scientists), all the Agavaceae are considered monocarpic in that the meristem dies after producing the flower even if the plant doesn't always. For example, almost all the Yuccas continue to grow after flowering.. some branch at the site of flowering, so the monocarpic event is more obvious... but others with a single straight trunk just keep on growing as if nothing ever happened giving the impression that they are truly polycarpic. However, per the scientists (which I am NOT) the meristems of these Yuccas die and new ones are formed, and a 'branch' forms albeit perfectly aligned with the current trunk making it look as if continued growth occured without any 'death'... which still makes them monocarpic.

Below is a palm that is monocarpic, but only in the sense its branch died that flowered... the palm continues to live one, and will unless all its branches flower before it makes new ones, or it fails to produce suckers from its root stock to continue on the life of the plant (but you can see all the suckers... this monocarpic plant will live a LONG time even if it flowers a dozen times).

Thumbnail of monocarpic by palmbob
(Click for full-size)

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