The Cycad Pages
Bowenia spectabilis

Bowenia spectabilis Hook. ex Hook. f., Bot. Mag. 89: sub t. 5398 (1863). t. 5398
"TYPE: the plate, Bot. Mag., t.5398 (1863); illustrated from a cultivated plant."

Etymology: Latin, spectabilis, visually striking or remarkable, from the unusual habit.

Historical notes: The original description was written by English botanist and director of Kew Gardens, W.J. Hooker. William Jackson Hooker, and published by his son J.D. Hooker in 1863.

Distinguishing features: The usually entire leaflets and the underground stems with less than 5 branches.

Distribution and habitat: Scattered in open situations in and around rainforest in north-eastern Queensland, on the coast and ranges from Cardwell to Cooktown, with an outlying occurrence in the McIlraith Range. Examples with serrate leaflets occur occasionally in most populations through the range of this species. These have been distributed in horticulture as Bowenia "Tinaroo", since this variant is especially common on the Atherton Tableland near Tinaroo. The wide occurrence in almost all populations of B. spectabilis means however that it is not a taxonomically recognisable entity.

Conservation status: Not considered to be at risk (IUCN Red List category LR,lc).


Plants acaulescent; stem subterranean, tuber-like, elongate, to 10 cm in diameter, with an elongate tuberous taproot, and 1-5 short, slender leaf and conebearing branches.

Leaves 1-7 in the crown, erect, with 4-10 spreading branches (pinnae), 100-200 cm long, to 100 cm broad; petiole to 100 cm long.

Leaflets 7-30 on each branch, obliquely lanceolate, decurrent at base, 7-15 cm long, 1.5-4 cm broad, entire or a few with occasional coarse lacerations, or rarely regularly shortly serrate.

Pollen cones stalked, ovoid, to 5 cm long, 2.5 cm in diameter; sporophylls broadly cuneate, distally dilated and truncate.

Seed cones sessile, ovoid to globose, to 10 cm long, 10 cm in diameter; sporophylls in about 8 ranks, the expanded ends ± hexagonal, 3-4.5 cm broad, c. 1.5 cm high.

Seeds to 3.2 cm long, 1.8 cm wide; sarcotesta white maturing to dull purple.

The Cycad Pages

© 1998-2012 Royal Botanic Gardens Sy dney
Written and maintained by Ken Hill 1998-2010
Maintained by Leonie Stanberg and Dennis Stevenson 2010-2012
This site is currently not being maintained