In a few years, a mystery bamboo species native to Japan is about to do something it does once in about 120 years: flower.

Phyllostachys nigra var. henonis, a monocarpic bamboo species (monocarpic means it flowers once in its lifetime and dies). The last time this species flowered was between 1908 and 1912—so, the next flowering season is expected to begin around 2028.

Because the plants die shortly after flowering, you might suppose that they throw their seeds around before they pop off, but it is not quite so. In 2020, some Japanese scientists chanced upon one flowering stand (grove) of the species and began to study it. After the flowering some new culms came but the bamboo did not produce any viable culms that could germinate.

The question is, if the bamboo dies in just a few years after flowering without producing any viable seeds, how come the species has survived for over 1,000 years? Since no study was made the last time about how the species reproduces, scientists are smacking their lips over the opportunity-of-the-century to carry out research.

Scientists wonder if the plant has some underground organs that let the plant regrow. Perhaps they will know more after the upcoming flowering season.