Posts Tagged ‘Mexican Cycad’

Dioon edule

Common name: Chestnut Dioon, Virgin’s Palm, Mexican Cycad, Mexican Blue Chamal

Family: Zamiaceae

Synonymous: Dioon aculeatum
Dioon imbricatum
Dioon strobilaceum
Dioon strobilosum
Macrozamia littoralis
Macrozamia pectinata
Platyzamia rigida
Zamia maeleni
Zamia friderici-guilielmi
Zamia macleani
Zamia rigida

Dioon edule

Dioon edule

Distribution and habitat: Dioon edule is endemic to the eastern coast of Mexico. It commonly grows in tropical deciduous thorn forests and oak woodlands. They are usually found at an altitude between sea-level and 1500m (5000 feet) in harsh areas including exposed, shallow soils. Most of the areas in which Dioon edule grows are subjected to very dry climates and frequent brush fires which impact their survival and distribution.

Description: Dioon edule is a medium-sized Cycad with rather stiff, straight, light to blue-green leaves 100-200cm (39-78 inch) long which, as in all Cycads, are large and divided, giving the plant the appearance of a palm or tree-fern. Each leaf bears 70 to 150 pairs of narrow leaflets, which measure around 12cm (5 inch) in length and are sometimes slightly hairy. Opposing leaflets are arranged at 180° on rachis, not overlaping. The basal leaflets are reduced to spines. The petiole is spine-free for the first 5cm (2 inch) from the base. The trunk is made up mainly of storage tissue, with very little true wood and in this species may either stand erect or lie on the ground. This trunk is usually unbranched or sparsely branched and may reach 4m (13 feet) of height under optimal conditions and 20-50cm (8-20 inch) in diameter. Dioon edule specifically has the ability to contract its stem underground as it grows — thus maintaining relativity in the amount of trunk exposed. As the plant gets older and grows a clump of taller trunk-stems, the leaf fronds are held more upright.

The Dioon edule are dioecious (presenting separate male and female plants) with a sex ratio distribution approximately 3:1 male/female. Male-gendered plants produce elongated woolly pollen cones, pale brown, 15-40cm (6-16 inch) long and 6-10cm (2.5-4 inch) diameter. Female cones are more egg-shaped, fuzzy, pale grey and very decorative, 20-35cm (8-14 inch) long and 12-20cm (5-8 inch) diameter. The seed cones entirely resemble a pineapple in form but the scales are feather-like and soft to the touch. A mature female cone may weigh 1-2kg and contain up to 200 or more seeds. The female cone cycle is approximately two years from initiation, pollination to dehiscence. Eventually the cone unravels to reveal nut sized seeds with a thin leathery skin. Seeds are ovoid, cream or white, 25-45mm long and 20-30mm wide.

Dioon edule is the most widely cultivated species in this genus.

Gardening: The leaflets of Dioon edule taper to a sharp point. It is recommended to plant it away from footpaths and walkways. Wear heavy gloves when handling or working close to Dioon edule to avoid getting jabbed by the sharp points of the leaflets.

They are long lived and slow growing and a plant with 30cm (12 inch) of stem can be quite old (20-40 or more years). Dioon edule is considered easy to grow and a good choice for low-maintenance landscapes.

Position: Plant Dioon edule in sunny, well drained position in sub-tropical or temperate areas. It is light to moderate frost tolerant to about -12°C (10°F), but only for a short period of time (up to 4 days) and only when mature and well established plant. Dioon edule is one of the most cold hardy cycads.
They thrives and grows best in partial shade, especially in hotter climates.

Soil: They are very adaptable plants to just about any soil except muddy, non-draining clay. They prefer well drained, gritty soil with plenty of water, especially in dry weather.

Irrigation: In cultivation it prefers moist soil with good drainage for optimal growth. But they are eventually very drought resistant.
Watering during summer is beneficial and unimpeded air movement is important to avoid foliage being damaged by excessive wet.

Fertilising: Naturally undemanding for nutrients, Dioon edule responds very well to regular applications of fertilizer. Growth can be greatly improved through the application of fertilizers. Can be used slow release fertiliser to really kick them on. These plants will love a regular feed with liquid fertiliser, as it is both absorbed through the foliage and the soil.

Mulch well when plant them in the garden – mulch conditions the soil, protects roots and saves water.

Containers: Dioon edule does well in containers and can be kept for many years in the same container. Being pot-bound does not usually affect they health adversely, but is does tend to slow its growth. Although container grown plants are unlikely to produce any seed.

Using Dioon edule in planters require same consideration given to container grown plants.

Light: Dioon edule can be kept indoors in a brightly lit spot or in a conservatory or greenhouse.

Temperature: Dioon edule makes a perfect specimen plant for the brighter conservatory or glasshouse, tolerating dry air, high temperatures, occasional light frosts and periods neglect if necessary. Slowly adjust them to full sun and keep them protected from frost and wind if possible.

Watering: During the active growth period water these plants moderately, enough to make the mixture moist throughout at each watering and allowing the top 5cm (2 inch) or so of the mixture to dry out before watering again. During any rest period that occur in cold season, give the Dioon edule only enough water to prevent the potting mixture from drying out completely.

Please note that container grown plants will need more watering than plants in the ground.

Fertiliser: Applications of fertiliser should be made about every four weeks during the growing season.

Potting and repotting: Use a well draining potting mix. Can be added some sand, perlite or vermiculite to improve drainage or use a specific cacti & succulent potting mix. Repot these plants in containers one size larger in spring before the start of active growth only if needed. Do not choose a huge pot in the hope the plant will grow faster, as it would not. Most small plants will grow well in 8 or 10cm (3-4 inch) pots, medium plants will often be suited to 12 to 14cm (4.7-5.5 inch) pots, and large plants will need bigger pots to suit.

After repotting, water in the plants really well  to get air bubbles out of the soil, as roots die when they come into contact with air bubbles. This might cause them to die back, prohibits them from thriving and might even cause death. It is one of the most important things to do when repotting these plants.

Propagation: Dioon edule can be propagated by fresh seed. It is among the easiest plants to germinate.

Dioon edule can be also propagated by division and replanting of the offesets grown at the base of mature plants.

Dioon edule problems are usually related to stem and root rot which is usually caused by over-watering or by planting Cycads in soil that does not drain freely. This problem is easily circumvented by carefully choosing planting locations and by watering efficiently.

Scale insects are the most common pest.
Treatment: Look over the plant often for scale and treat any infestation immediately with insecticide.

Caterpillars may chew on the foliage.
Treatment: Use an adequate insecticide.

Notes: Dioon edule are rarely seen in gardens and are an endangered species. These ‘living fossils’ have been around since the time of the dinosaurs, although they are no longer as numerous as they once were.
Dioon edule can live to be 1,500 years old and eventually achieve a trunk height of 3m (10 feet), this medium-sized cycad is very slow-growing.

Toxicity: Since the skin of Dioon edule seeds is reportedly carcinogenic it is strongly advisable to use gloves when handling the seeds and caution against eating any parts of any Cycad!

Uses: Dioon edule can be used in many ways in a landscape. Large paired plants in containers or feature beds that flank driveways, doorways or gates. A single large specimen makes an excellent feature plant in a landscape that emulates a tropical or desert setting. Use Dioon edule to substitute for a true palm where a large crown is desired, but without a tall trunk. It can be a spectacular accent in a small garden where space is limited. It also makes an impressive understory to a larger tree or structure that allows at least partial sunlight to filter through. It is a perfect addition to accent a xeric landscape. Also it makes a beautiful specimen for large tubs or containers.

Height: 3m (10 feet)
Width: 0.7 – 1.7m (2-5.5 feet)
Hardiness zone: 8b-11

Cycads , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Zamia furfuracea

Common name: Cardboard Plant, Cardboard Sago, Jamaican Sago, Mexican Cycad, Cardboard Cycad, Cardboard Palm

Family: Zamiaceae

Synonymous: Palmifolium furfuraceum
Palma pumila
Zamia crassifolia
Zamia gutierrezii
Zamia vestita
Zamia fusca
Zamia maritima

Zamia furfuracea

Zamia furfuracea

Distribution and habitat: Zamia furfuracea is a cycad native to Mexico in a small mountain range in central Veracruz. This species grows in areas varying from generally arid thorn scrub to sandy soils and in limestone sea cliffs.

Description: Zamia furfuracea has long folds which arch from a central crown. The fronds carry tightly packed leaflets which give the plant a fern-like appearance. The thick leathery leaves are pinnate and have 13 cm (5 inch) long by 3cm (1 inch) wide oval leaflets. They are slightly fuzzy and feel a little like cardboard when rubbed. Occasionally, the leaflets are toothed toward the tips. The circular crowns of leaves resemble fern or palm fronds.

The plant has a short, sometimes subterranean trunk up to 20cm (8 inch) broad and high, usually with no ramification and marked with scars from old leaf bases. It grows very slowly when young, but its growth accelerates after the trunk matures. This fleshy trunk serves as a water reservoir in times of drought. When the plant is young, the fronds appear to rise directly from the ground.

This plant produces a rusty-brown cone in the center of the female plant. The egg-shaped female (seed-producing) cones and smaller male (pollen-producing) cone clusters are produced on separate plants. Even very young plants produce these interestingly shaped cones.
When ripe, the female cone breaks to reveal an array of tightly packed, bright red 3cm (1 inch) seeds.

Houseplant: In temperate regions it is commonly grown as a houseplant and, in subtropical areas, as a container or bedding plant outdoors. It is qualified as an easy to grow plant, but has a slow growth rate.

Specimens can be grown indoors in shallow containers. In this way, the partially exposed trunk (tuberous stem) and the airy crown of leaves create a striking bonsai specimen.

Light: Zamia furfuracea grows in bright light to full sun. Turn the plant regularly in front of the window so that it will grow evenly. Otherwise, the stems will grow toward the sunlight, creating a lop-sided plant.

Temperature: Normal room temperatures are suitable for this cycad year-round ranging between 16-24°C (60-75°F).
This plant thrives in average to low humidity condition.

Water: Water only when the potting mixture is completely dry, pour water till it flows out of the bottom of the pot. It is drought resistant, being a semi-succulent that stores water in its trunk. Do not allow the potting mixture to get too dry, though, or this plant may drop its leaves.

Avoid getting water on the base of the plant or the foliage because can cause Zamia furfuracea to rot. Water the potting mix only.

Fertiliser: Feed once in spring and again in summer with a slow-release fertiliser.

Potting and repotting: Repotting Zamia furfuracea should not be necessary more often than about once in every two or three years as the plant does not like to be disturbed. Use a heavy container to prevent toppling, because these plants can get top-heavy.  Move the plants into one size larger pot in spring when the plant becomes root-bound; use an equal parts good-quality potting mix and sand for good drainage.

After reaching maximum pot size, top-dress these plants by replacing the top 5-8cm (2-3 inch) of potting mixture with fresh one.

Gardening: This plant is easy to care for. They are fairly salt- and drought-tolerant, but should be protected from extreme cold.

Position: Zamia furfuracea do well in full sun or shade, but not in constant deep shade. The crown of this plant will grow erect in full sun and horizontal in shade.

Soil: It tolerates a variety of well-drained soils.

Irrigation: Watering should be done with moderation because plants are drought-tolerant once they become established.

Fertilising: Needs fertilizer only once a year in spring: mulch with organic material (bark and leaf) or provide palm fertilizer.

Propagation: Zamia furfuracea plant can be reproduced by seed. The fleshy, brightly crimson-colored seeds are produced by the female plants. The germination process is very slow and difficult to achieve in cultivation. Seedlings are slow-growing and will take years for them to grow tall. Zamia furfuracea propagation is not really feasible for the home gardener. Zamia furfuracea is popular cycad usually available in nurseries or florist shops.
Not all seeds collected from a mature plant are fertile unless they are cross-pollinated.

Notes: Zamia furfuracea is a “living fossil” plants, its kind surviving on earth since the time of the dinosaurs.
Because seed germination is a very slow and difficult, many plants sold for horticultural use are illegally collected in the wild, leading to the species being classified as vulnerable in its natural habitat.

Uses: Zamia furfuracea is a great houseplant tough enough to survive occasional neglect and harsh indoor environments. It makes a great dramatic accent or specimen plant. Also it makes a great container plant for the patio or deck.

It is use for border, mass planting, container or above-ground planter, in mixed foundation plantings or in perennial beds.

This cycad is salt resistant and can be used in beachside plantings.

Toxicity: All parts of the plant including seeds are poisonous to animals and humans. The toxicity causes liver and kidney failure, as well as eventual paralysis. Dehydration sets in very quickly. No treatment for the poisoning is currently known. Protect pets and children to never eat or chew any part of this plant.


Foliage – green
Shape – rosette
Height: 0.6-1.5m (2-5 feet)
Spread: 1.5-2.5m (5-8 feet)

Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – bright filtered
Temperature in rest period – min 13°C max 24°C (55-75°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (60-75°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zones: 9b – 11

Zamia furfuracea Zamia furfuracea - conesZamia furfuracea - seeds

Cycads, Foliage Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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