Pikmin (named after Olimar's favorite brand of carrots, Pikpik Carrots) are a semisentient plant-animal life-form indigenous to PNF-404. They are first encountered by Captain Olimar when his ship crash-lands on the planet in Pikmin. Pikmin come in a number of different colors, each indicating a unique set of attributes that better suit them to different environments.
They are 2.9 cm/1.14 inches tall from foot-to-tip and are able to carry about 20 times their weight, just as ants do. The wild Pikmin that Olimar encounters in Pikmin 2 appear to remember him when he revisits PNF-404.
Captain Olimar was noted in Pikmin to wonder, a bit uneasily, why the Pikmin do not attack him, and speculated that they might see him as a "parental figure". An idea commonly held by fans is that Olimar's helmet antenna resembles the stem on a Pikmin's head, and that the Pikmin see him as one of their own or as some kind of "Superior Pikmin". Although wild Pikmin, with the exception of Bulbmin, have never been observed to follow a leader, this explanation seems to be the most probable, and is further evidenced by the fact that Pikmin will imitate Olimar, such as by blowing imaginary whistles.
Although each species has different characteristics, all Pikmin (except Bulbmin, Rock Pikmin and Winged Pikmin) have the same general appearance, with a: humanoid body shape; large, bulb-shaped heads; two round eyes; two arms and two legs, each with three digits, and a tall stem on which a single, five-petaled flower grows. Their limbs also serve as roots when buried in the ground. In fact, Olimar refers to their entire bodies, except the stems, as ambulatory root systems.
Their maximum carrying weight is at least 5 grams/0,18 ounces. This is shown by the fact that a marble of 16 mm/0,63 inches (Love sphere and Mirth Sphere) is 5 grams, and you only need one Pikmin to carry it. This would mean that Pikmin weigh 250 milligrams/.009 ounces and Purple Pikmin weigh 2,5 grams/.09 ounces who can carry 50 grams/1.8 ounces. Olimar should weigh about 20 grams/.7 ounces then, because in the first game you need 4 Pikmin to carry him.
The internal structures of Pikmin are a mystery, but certain things about them can be speculated. Since Pikmin never seem to eat anything except nectar, they probably have a very simple digestive system, if any. As such, it's likely that Pikmin get a majority of their nutrients from food the Onions break down. Since the Onions are the center of Pikmin reproduction as well, it seems likely that Pikmin are incapable of sexual reproduction. As Olimar says, Onions seem to be some kind of incubator. However, in Pikmin, flowering Pikmin will sometimes drop seeds when slain in battle, suggesting that they may be able to reproduce asexually, but also that they do not have defined sexes and are hermaphrodites like many plants. Pikmin also have a skeletal system, as seen when electrocuted. Though this wouldn't make sense given their size and mostly plant-like morphology, so it's probably just for comedic effect or they have a simple notochord, a hardened stem which many simple creatures, mostly the same size as Pikmin, possess. Pikmin probably do not have any sort of lungs, but their leaves, buds, and flowers appear to serve as their main means of respiration, since poison gas or water droplets collecting around them suffocates the Pikmin. When killed, Pikmin fly into the air and disappear as a ghost, sometimes after releasing a liquid of the same color as the Pikmin, possibly the Pikmin equivalent to hemolymph or blood.
In the Nintendo Land game "Pikmin Adventure," after dying, the Pikmin come back to life and continue to battle by the player Mii's side.
While idle, Pikmin's leaves and flowers glow the Pikmin's respective color; that, coupled with a cinema scene at the end of Pikmin 2 would suggest that Pikmin are somehow bioluminescent, though what causes this and what function it might serve in the wild has never been explained, though it could possibly be meant for communication or (in cases of large numbers) to ward off nocturnal predators.
Pikmin appear to be capable of other forms of communication. When in a group, they will sometimes sing parts of "Luigi's Mansion Theme Song" and Ai no Uta. If left idle for a long time, Pikmin will moan at each other. From what is heard, it can be assumed that Pikmin language is very simple and primitive. Judging by their behavior alone it almost seems as if Pikmin are capable of expressing emotions such as boredom, fear, happiness, pride, and sadness.
Pikmin can be divided into three stages: In the first of these, the Pikmin will have a leaf on their stem. Leaf Pikmin are the slowest and weakest. Although all three stages inflict exactly the same amount of damage to enemies, leaf Pikmin take longer to build bridges and take down gates.
The second stage Pikmin have buds on their stems. In factors of speed and power, these are just between leaf and flower Pikmin. In Pikmin, if a flower Pikmin is shaken off, it will revert to a bud, and the bud will revert to a leaf in the same scenario. In Pikmin 2, however, flower Pikmin revert to leaf Pikmin immediately. Like flower Pikmin, buds can be received when leaf Pikmin are allowed to stay in the ground for a certain amount of time.
The final stage Pikmin are flower Pikmin. These can be gained by letting Pikmin drink nectar, by letting them mature in the ground, or by letting a Mamuta plant Pikmin. In Pikmin, flower Pikmin which have fallen in battle will occasionally leave behind seeds which will sprout the next day, but this was discontinued in Pikmin 2.
In Pikmin, if flower Pikmin are left in the ground for the entirety of the flower stage, the stalks will retreat into the ground for another cycle and then sprout again as leaf Pikmin. This process is accompanied by a low droning sound which can be heard if Olimar is near the landing site. In Pikmin 2, this last stage is bypassed, and Pikmin will go straight from flowers to leaves when left in the ground for too long. In Pikmin 3, planted Pikmin will still grow into buds then flowers, but once they are flowers, they do not become leaves anymore, like in previous games. Also, if you leave planted Pikmin behind, the next day, they will be flowers.
The flower upon a mature Pikmin is called (Sutera cordata ) or commonly known as the Bocopa. This was used to model the white, five pedaled, yellow centered flowers that rest on top of the first generation of Pikmin species, as well as the Bulbmin in the second generation of Pikmin. Sutera cordata also come in different colors as well, like white, lavender (violet), and magenta (pink). So far in the Pikmin species all three of these colors have been used. In Pikmin 3, Flower Pikmin do not lose their flowers and remain flowers for the remainder of the time they are alive. This is to compensate for the fact that Nectar is notably scarce in this game. Pikmin also become permanently-flowered as a side effect of Ultra-Spicy Spray, and Yellow Pikmin become flowered when exposed to electricity.
Introduced in Pikmin 1
Introduced in Pikmin 2
Introduced in Pikmin 3
Pikmin Extinction occurs when every single Pikmin, including those planted in the ground and stored in the Onions, is lost. The day ends immediately and the Onions each produce a single seed at the beginning of the following day. As a result, its possible for Pikmin to be never extinct as long as their Onion survives.
In Pikmin, the following is Olimar's Journal entry on the first day extinction occurs:
The Pikmin have all perished because of my own carelessness. I am an utter disgrace as a leader... How can I continue to collect parts without them? Still the Onions join me in low orbit, as if this Pikmin extinction had never happened. I shan't sleep tonight...
In Pikmin 2, an extinction of Purple or White Pikmin will not produce seeds, as neither colors have Onions.
In the Nintendo Land game "Pikmin Adventure," an extinction of Pikmin never happens, as the Pikmin will continuously regenerate themselves and fight by the player's side as if they didn't die.
In Pikmin 3, rather than the day immediately ending, an extinction simply prompts a cutscene to play of the Master Onion expelling another seed of whichever type of Pikmin was lost, giving the captains the rest of the day to grow more Pikmin and continue their mission the following day.
- If the players gather every ship part in the first Pikmin game, they will see several different colored Onions in the ending cutscene. These include five Pink Onions, four Black/Grey Onions, two Cyan Onions, one Green Onion, one Orange Onion, and one Purple Onion. Although Purple Pikmin were discovered in Pikmin 2, they were introduced without an Onion. The Rock and Winged Pikmin have an Onion in Pikmin 3, although this Onion is different from the ones seen in the cutscene. It is currently unknown whether the rest of these colors will appear in future games, or if the multi-colored Onions are just an Easter egg.