|The Cycad Pages
- Cycas bifida (Dyer) K.D. Hill, Bot. Rev. 70(2): 161-163 (2004). H—K
From the Latin bi- two and -fidus divided, referring to the
dichotomously divided leaflets.
Cheng, Fu & Cheng 1975
(as C. micholitzii).
(as C. multifrondis,)
This remarkable species was first recognized as a distinct taxon in western
literature by English botanist
Sir William Thiselton-Dyer
who described it as C. rumphii var. bifida, on the basis of a
leaf fragment collected by
H- B- Morse
in the Longzhou district of southern Guangxi in 1896. Thiselton-Dyer later
received material apparently collected by
in Annam (northern Vietnam) from
Sander & Sons
in 1905, and from
of the Singapore Botanic Gardens at about the same time. He described this
as a new species C. micholitzii in 1905, noting the similarities
with the specimen he had earlier described as C. rumphii var.
bifida but not combining the two. Subsequent authors have regarded
them as the same species until recent studies have shown them to be distinct.
The most immediately striking feature of this species is the dichotomously
divided leaflets. However, this also occurs in several related taxa, and in
a horticultural form of C. revoluta that is popular in Japan. The
subterranean habit, the small, soft microsporangiate cones, the loose, freely
peeling sarcotesta lacking a fibrous layer and the verrucose sclerotesta are
also all features shared by a wider group of related species (Section
Stangerioides). Within this group of related species, C. bifida
is distinguished by the long leaves with glossy, thin-textured, comparatively
long and broad leaflets that are dichotomously divided very near to the base.
It is most similar to C. micholitzii from central Vietnam, and can be
distinguished by the larger stature, the longer, broader and glossier leaflets
and the larger male cones with microsporophylls lacking an apiculus.
Distribution and habitat:
Southern Guangxi and eastern Yunnan provinces in China and Cao Bang,
Lang Son and Tuyen Quang provinces in north Vietnam.
Locally abundant but many populations are now seriously depleted. This
species occurs in low, scrubby but fairly dense mixed evergreen and deciduous
or bamboo woodland, often on red terra rosa soils on and around steep
karst limestone outcrops, but also on sandy or loamy soils over shales, granites
This species is apparently sympatric with C. multipinnata in several
populations in China, and a range of morphologically intermediate forms that
can be interpreted as a hybrid swarm has been observed (see
C. longipetiolula, excluded names, below). Hybrids are also recorded
with C. dolichophylla and C. diannanensis.
This species has been severely reduced in numbers both by collecting and by
unrestrained agricultural and forestry development. The rarity combined with
the unusual habit make it a very highly sought plant by collectors. It is
still, however, frequent in many places, especially in Vietnam, and not
considered to be immediately at risk.
IUCN (1994) Red List status VU A2c.
Vernacular: chaye sutie (China).