Eli5: How do flowers that bloom once every 40 or 50 years exist?



Like, the corpse flower which blooms every 40 years. Or the baobab tree which blooms every 50 years. Why aren’t they extinct?

In: Biology

They’re not extinct because they don’t reproduce that often. Reproduction requires a great deal of energy. Think of baobab tree’s habitat, pretty dry and barren. It doesn’t often have the energy to create new babies.

Also, it couldn’t survive if there was a ton of baobab trees around it, taking what little resources are available. Those trees live to be 3,000 years old, so it doesn’t need to reproduce every year unlike a plant that only live 4-5 years.

I guess you mean that they should be extinct, due to more frequently reproduing plants outcompeting them?

Well i can answer why that is not the case.

1. Plants – unlike humans – can have gazillion offspring, they don’t need to care for, and they will grow big fine. Thus a plant that reproduces once in 50 years, but makes 50x as many seeds is just as viable as one that reproduces every year but has a lot fewer seeds per event.
2. If a plant reproduces once in 50 years, it means that animals cannot set up shop to eat its seeds. Like bear setting up to eat salmon every fall.
As they would have starved to death in the remaining 49 years.
To use the salmon example, if salmons amss migrated once in every 50 years, then the area couldnt support as many bears, thus morer salmons would survive.