Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Marlborough Blue

A few years ago a number of sources started offering seed of a blue aussie cycad under the name "Cycas sp. Marlborough Blue". The name was of a fairly obvious origin. It was a cycas, from the Marlborough area and it was blue. It was subsequently identified as Cycas ophiolitica.

cycas ophiolitica

Cycas ophiolitica's specific name derrives from the latin for snake rock, as in Serpentinite - the type of rock around which it tends to grow. Interestingly C. ophiolitica shares its habitat in part with the blue Macrozamia species M. serpentina and in other places both are green not blue which suggests the soil may have something to do with the coloration. This Kew plant is certainly not as spectacular as the pictures of wild specimens suggest.

There is another Cycad Blue in Marlborough by the way, a butterfly which uses Cycas as its food plant, Theclinesthes onchya.

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