Cerberiopsis candelabra is a long-lived monocarpic rain-forest tree endemic to New Caledonia that shows mass flowering across a substantial proportion of a population, and across a substantial number of populations. We investigated the relationship between tree size and flowering (and subsequent dying) across 18 populations from the flowering event of 2003 in order to understand the role of possible size thresholds for flowering in the life history and regeneration ecology of this monocarpic species. There was a strong positive correlation between trunk diameter and the incidence of flowering when population data were combined. However, the relationship between size and flowering was complex in that flowering occurred across a wide range of tree sizes, with almost complete overlap in size between flowering (5–79 cm dbh) and non-flowering trees (5–64 cm dbh), and with large trees in both the flowering and non-flowering state in the same population. In about half the populations studied there was no significant difference in mean trunk diameter of flowering and non-flowering trees. Nonetheless, we suggest that tree size may play a fundamental role in the life history and regeneration ecology of this species. The seedlings appear to be relatively shade-intolerant and dependent on large canopy gaps for recruitment. A significant effect of mass flowering and subsequent death of multiple large trees is the potential to form large canopy gaps and enhance seedling survival, as the gap is temporally linked with seed germination. However, it is unclear why there is such a large size range of flowering trees, i.e. whether this is just a consequence of the proximate cue, or whether the optimal size for flowering does indeed vary among individuals.