While perennials usually bloom at a certain time every year, there are a few plants in the world that flower only once in their lifetime. Located in different areas of the world, when they flower, these enormous, rare plants often draw a large crowd of tourists.
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Madagascar palm tree
Discovered by botanists in 2008, the largest species of palm tree in Madagascar blooms with hundreds of tiny flowers once in 100 years. The blooming process is so taxing that the 20 m (66 foot) tree dies a few months afterwards. For this reason, botanists have labelled it an annual. When the tree is about to bloom, it grows a large, asparagus-like shoot out of its crown. Shortly afterwards, the flowers appear, dripping nectar that attracts birds and insects. Botanists estimate that there are only 100 such trees in the world.
Century plant (Agave americana)
The century plant was so named because it was originally thought to bloom once every 100 years; however, it actually matures and blossoms after 50 or 60 years at most. Closely related to aloe vera, the century plant produces pups, or offshoots at its base, which can be used to propagate new plants. Like the Madagascar palm tree, the plant grows a large, asparagus-like shoot from its crown before it blooms, a phenomenon known as inflorescence. Dozens of golden flowers bloom from this shoot for two weeks, after which the plant dies. Native to Texas, the plant thrives in hot climates with dry, gravelly, well-drained soil and full sun.
Corpse flower (titan arum)
Unlike plants which bear flowers and die afterwards, the corpse flower is a giant, 2.1 m (7 foot) tall flower that blooms two to three times every 100 years. Although the blooming flower releases sulphur and smells like rotting corpses, any known instance of its flowering attracts tourists all over the world. Luckily, the full bloom lasts only for a day or two. The titan arum grows naturally in the moist, warm rainforest of Sumatra in Indonesia, where its smell attracts carrion beetles and sweat bees, which then pollinate the flower. There have been 140 documented corpse flowers found worldwide.
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- Texas A&M University Department of Horticulture: Century plant ...