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Pikmin can be in one of three stages of maturity. The more mature the Pikmin is, the faster it becomes, and the more efficient it is at completing tasks. As such, it is on the player's best interest to keep their Pikmin in high maturity. A Pikmin's stage can be identified by what's on top of its stem, and there are several ways for Pikmin to both increase and decrease in maturity. Three stages exist: leaf, bud, and flower; all Pikmin start in the leaf stage when born.
When stored into an Onion, Pikmin do not lose their maturity, meaning that the player will not lose flower or bud Pikmin between days. When pulling Pikmin out of an Onion, flower Pikmin come out first, then buds, and finally leaves.
The standby Pikmin icon in the first two games makes the distinction between different maturities of Pikmin. Before throwing in Pikmin 2 and the two New Play Control! remakes, it is possible to swap out a Pikmin on a leader's hand for one of a different maturity within the same type; this can be achieved by pressing / .
Because a higher maturity is better than a lower one, some rankings in the games use icons based on the Pikmin stems' tops to symbolize their value. For instance, in Mission Mode, the bronze medal has a leaf icon, the silver medal has a bud, and the gold and platinum medals have a flower. Analogously, flowers are sometimes depicted in the series as symbols of evolution or idealism, such as the Pikmin 2 Challenge Mode levels on the grid changing to flowers upon completion.
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The first, basic stage. A simple green leaf sticks atop the stem. Pikmin in this state are slow and not as effective at completing tasks as other maturities. Newborn Pikmin always start off as leaves.
The second stage. These Pikmin have a round bud on their stem. Pikmin normally have white buds, but Purple and White Pikmin have magenta buds, and Rock and Winged Pikmin have lavender ones. At this maturity, Pikmin have average speed.
The final stage, also called "blossom" by Captain Olimar. Flower Pikmin are the fastest, and have a chaenostoma cordatum atop their stems. In Pikmin, flower Pikmin that die in battle have a chance of leaving behind a sprout that appears the following day. The color of a Pikmin's flower is the same as the color of its bud.
The most basic way for Pikmin to increase in level is to let them remain underground for some time without plucking them. As they stay underground, they extract nutrients from the soil, which allows them to evolve from their current stage to the next one every few minutes.
The other common way to have Pikmin mature is to feed them nectar. This will instantly set them to flower status if they are on the leaf or bud stages.
Other ways also exist:
- In Pikmin 3, an ultra-spicy spray instantly matures all Pikmin in the party to the flower stage, as well as power them up temporarily.
- Yellow Pikmin that complete an electrode's circuit will instantly flower up as if they drank nectar.
- If a Mamuta plants Pikmin, they instantly evolve to the flower stage.
- In 2-Player Battle, the flower roulette wheel power will instantly flower up all non-buried Pikmin that belong to the player that used it.
In the first two games, buried flower Pikmin wither and disappear if left underground for too long, but do eventually return as a leaf, where the cycle repeats. Interestingly, in Pikmin 3, buried Pikmin will not be able to evolve past leaf stage on the first day, nor on Brittany's section of the first Distant Tundra day. In Pikmin 3, Pikmin that are buried and far from the player will also not evolve, probably because they are off camera; they only mature when the player gets close to them.
In Pikmin and Pikmin 2, Pikmin only evolve if the leader is in the same area they are, and if the gameplay is playing. This means that if the player returns to a buried leaf Pikmin some day later, they will not find a flower Pikmin, regardless if the day with the leaf Pikmin was ended with the pause menu or not. In Pikmin 3 though, this was changed so that Pikmin that stay buried overnight will evolve to the flower stage, and since buried Pikmin in the flower stage do not revert like in the previous games, leaving buried Pikmin overnight is a good way to evolve them. This is also true if the player ends the day early from the pause menu (even if the Pikmin don't appear as flowers in the sunset cutscene), and works regardless of how long during the day the buried Pikmin has been left.
In all games, buried Pikmin take 2 minutes to advance in stage. In Pikmin and Pikmin 2, once a buried Pikmin reaches the flower stage, it stays that way for 3 minutes, where it eventually wilts and disappears; it stays as a flower forever in Pikmin 3. After wilting, a Pikmin takes 1 minute to return as a leaf in Pikmin, but only 8 seconds in Pikmin 2.
There are some ways for Pikmin to decrease in maturity in the first two games. Pikmin in Pikmin 3 will never lose their stage to a weaker one.
- In Pikmin and Pikmin 2, Pikmin that get knocked down in battle have a random chance of decreasing in maturity. In Pikmin, a Pikmin will only decrease to the maturity directly under the one it is on, but in Pikmin 2, the decrease will happen straight to the leaf stage.
- The Withering Blowhog's breath can revert Pikmin back to the leaf stage.
- In Pikmin and Pikmin 2, if a flower Pikmin is left underground for too long, it disappears, and reappears some seconds later with a leaf status. This is accompanied by a low-pitched humming sound that can be heard throughout the entire area.
- In 2-Player Battle, an ultra-bitter spray used against the opponent's Pikmin will bury them and revert them to the leaf stage.
A "rebirth" via a Candypop Bud could be considered a way for a Pikmin's status to revert back to a leaf, and this is true for every game, although technically, the Pikmin that gets tossed in disappears and a new one is born in its place.
In alternative game modes
In Bingo Battle, a Pikmin's leaf or flower is the same color as the team it's on – cyan for player 1, and pink for player 2. In both 2-Player Battle and Bingo Battle, maturity does not have an impact on what Pikmin will win a fight when Pikmin are attacking each other. Also to note is that in Bingo Battle, it is not possible to get bud Pikmin because they cannot evolve if they are left underground, but this is not true in Pikmin 2's 2-Player Battle mode.
In other media
This article or section features debatable canonical information.
In the Pikmin Short Movies
The Pikmin Short Movies portray Pikmin changing maturity in ways that do not coincide with the canon games. While at times the change in maturity is mostly a visual gag, there are situations where the evolutions have an impact on the outcome of the story.
In Treasure in a Bottle, the Pikmin outside of the bottle change from leaf to flowers when they come up with an idea. This is likely a take on the cartoon joke where characters that come up with ideas receive a glowing lightbulb on top of their heads.
Near the end of Occupational Hazards, when the Pikmin and Bulborb are falling from the backhoe's bucket, the Pikmin's leaves turn into flowers, serving as parachutes. When Yellow Pikmin touch the backhoe's battery, their leaves turn into buds, which is something that does not happen in Pikmin 3; when they finish the circuit, their buds stay the same, whereas in the third Pikmin game, finishing a circuit rewards all Pikmin involved with a flower status. A Red Pikmin can also be seen evolving into a flower after emerging from the mud, in the scene after the Fiery Blowhog is defeated, but the reason for this is not known.
In addition to this, in the opening to The Night Juicer, some mature Purple Pikmin have erroneously white-colored flowers. However, this was most likely done for the sake of having the Pikmin logo, which they help form, all white.
In the Super Smash Bros. series
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, the Pikmin following Olimar start on the leaf stage when plucked, and slowly evolve into buds and then flowers as they stay on the battlefield. This change is only aesthetic, though, although it is the main concept behind event #14: "Sproutage of the Flower Pikmin", in Brawl. To save on performance, Pikmin always stay on the leaf status in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS.
In Pikmin Adventure
In the Nintendo Land attraction Pikmin Adventure, Olimar players and Pikmin players may collect blobs of nectar to increase a numeric level. Three drops of nectar are needed to increase one level, and between levels 1 and 4, that player's Pikmin will be in the leaf stage. Between levels 5 and 9, the bud stage, and from 10 onward, the flower stage. Although the maturity itself has no impact on the Pikmin's performance, the numeric level does. The Olimar player also receives an increase in Pikmin number when evolving to a new stage.
- There is a glitch in Pikmin that makes it possible for Onions to spit out seeds with buds or flowers, depending on the last Pikmin plucked. The Pikmin itself will still start on the leaf stage, so this is merely aesthetic.
- In Pikmin 2, the sound used when a Pikmin's bud or flower wilts (whether because of a Withering Blowhog or by staying underground too long) is the same sound that plays when a Candypop Bud wilts, but slightly modified.
- “What exactly are these Pikmin? One could classify them as both plant and animal. They mature from leaf, to bud, and finally to blossom. When all of one color are lost, the Onion instinctively puts out new seeds... How does it know to do this? What a mysterious life-form!” – Captain Olimar in his voyage log
- “If you leave Pikmin in the ground for a while without picking them, they will extract more nutrients from the soil and grow as shown below.” – Pikmin Growth section in the Pikmin instruction manual
- YouTube video that explains some of Pikmin 2's sounds
|Types||Red Pikmin • Yellow Pikmin • Blue Pikmin • Purple Pikmin • White Pikmin • Rock Pikmin • Winged Pikmin • Bulbmin|
|Biology||Candypop Bud • Maturity • Onion • Pikmin extinction • Spirit|
|Abilities||Carrying • Digging • Dodge • Hiding|
|Controlling||Dismiss • Group move • Pluck • Throw • Whistle|
|Other||Mushroom Pikmin • Olimar as Pikmin|