Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Zamia furfuracea

Look at this beautiful plant classified as an endangered species. It's a cycad native to southeastern Veracruz state in eastern Mexico bearing the scientific name of Zamia furfuracea. If you feel that's too exotic a name, you can call it by its alternate name of Cardboard Cycad. This is a female plant with child. It must be grown near a male plant to produce the egg-shaped cones bearing seeds. Pollination is by an insect named Rhopalotria mollis. Again, you can call this insect by its easier to remember name of belid weevil. I know, it's easy for me to say.

Cardboard Cycad plant can only be reproduced by the fleshy, brightly crimson-colored seeds as seen here. The germination process is very slow and difficult to achieve in cultivation. As a result, many plants sold for horticultural use are illegally collected in the wild, leading to the species being classified as endangered.

It's pretty, but you must know that all parts of this plant 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. Lucky for me to learn this because I thought this may make a good drink for the evening. Somehow, the animals all know this and these seeds are left untouched.
Pretty but Poisonous

4 comments:

Kit Kat said...

Hello. I have one of these in my front yard planted about 2 years ago. It has this same shoot and red kernals. There is not another one anywhere near me so it does not need another plant to have these seeds.

I found your blog while searching for Banjong Orchids.

Lan said...

Kit Kat, are you sure yours is truly a Zamia furfuracea? As far as I know, this species has male and female plants. The females have ovules and the pollen to pollinate them must come from male plants. Pollination is by wind or insects. If yours produced cones with seeds, the pollen must have come from somewhere not too far away, if it's not next to the female plant. My photo was taken from a bed of many plants, with males and females in close quarters.

Lan said...

I consulted a cycad expert today and learned from him that the Zamia furfuracea were imported from Mexico, and the pollinator, the weevil insect also came at the same time. These pollinators have very long range, and they take the pollen from male plants somewhere to pollinate your female plant.

Lan said...

I consulted a cycad expert today and learned from him that the Zamia furfuracea were imported from Mexico, and the pollinator, the weevil insect also came at the same time. These pollinators have very long range, and they take the pollen from male plants somewhere to pollinate your female plant.