Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Another cycad, this one from the land down under. Australia has a large genus of cycads called Macrozamia and the specimen below is probably the species a non-australian is most likely to come across; Macrozamia communis, the burrawang. I say probably because M. communis had two other species split out of it in 1998 so some older plants in some collections may be more correctly attributable to these; I know nothing of differentiating these 3.

macrozamia communis

As you can see there is no real trunk on this girl but probably a big subterranean caudex. That said this one can form a small trunk on occasion. This specimen at San Diego zoo is a female and obviously a well-pollinated one at that. There's 3 ripe cones full of seeds bursting on this one!

macrozamia communis3

This is a good illustration of how the seed cones break down. The seeds are toxic although the Aborigines found a way to denature the poison and get food out of these. Seeds will often germinate near the parent where they drop but can be moved around by small marsupials (and I would guess) big aussie birds which would go for the fleshy stuff around the seed.

macrozamia communis2

San Diego zoo also has botanic garden status so hopefully they get put to good use somewhere around the world.

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