Definitions

Monocarpic

Monocarpic

[mon-uh-kahr-pik]
Monocarpic plants are those that flower, set seeds and then die. Other terms with the same meaning are hapaxanth and semelparous. The term was first used by Alphonse de Candolle.

The antonym is polycarpic, a plant that flowers and sets seeds many times during its lifetime. Plants which flower en masse (gregariously) before dying are known as plietesials.

The plant can live a number of years before it will flower. Flowering does not by itself result in the death of the plants but the production of fruits and seeds causes changes within the plants which lead to death. These changes are induced by chemicals that act as hormones, redirecting the resources of the plants from the roots and leaves to the production of fruits and or seeds.

The Century plant in the genus Agave, some terrestrial bromeliads of the genus Puya, some yuccas, and many bamboos can take 8 to 20 years or in the case of bamboos even over 100 years to bloom and then die. Often monocarpic plants can be kept alive after flowering if the flowers are removed as soon as they are done blooming, before seed formation begins, or if the flower buds are removed before they begin blooming.

Monocarpic plants are often, but not necessarily, short-lived. One may find annuals, biennials and perennials among monocarpic plants.

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