Photo Ken Hill
The Cycad Pages
Cycas chevalieri

Cycas chevalieri Leandri, "in Lecompte, Fl. Indo-Chine 5(10): 1092" (1931).
"TYPE: Vietnam. Nghe An Prov., Nghia Hung, Nghia Dan (Tram Lui), 20 May 1841, F. Fleury sub. A. Chevalier 32612 (iso P)."

Etymology: Honouring French botanist, explorer and historian Auguste Jean Baptiste Chevalier (1873-1956), collector of the type. Chevalier collected in Indochina from 1913-19 and was General Inspector of Agriculture and Forestry in Vietnam (1919-19). He was then a professor of botany in Paris from 1929.

Historical notes: Described in 1931 by Corsican-born French botanist Jaques Desire Leandri (1903-x), who worked at the Natural History Museum in Paris. This name was ignored by Ho in his general enumerations of Vietnamese plants (1960, 1991). C. chevalieri was placed in the synonymy of the related C. balansae by Hiep & Vidal (1996), but is now recognized as a distinct species more closely allied with C. hoabinhensis than C. balansae. This species was largely unknown except for the type collections until recollected in 1998. The original type locality was by this time cleared for cultivation, and had been previously searched for C. chevalieri in vain. The recent discovery of large numbers of plants was made some 120 km to the south, in relatively undisturbed forest in the foothills of the Annam Highlands. It has subsequently been found to extend over a range of several hundred kilometers further to the south.

Distinguishing features: Within a complex of closely related mostly acaulescent taxa (Section Stangerioides), this species is distinguished by the medium stature, broad leaflets, long petioles relative to total leaf length, erect petioles with short spines that are not usually continued onto the swollen leaf base, a reflexed leaf bladesmall megasporophylls and pollen cones and slender apical spine on the microsporophyll. Older plants develop a slender, often decumbent aerial trunk.

Distribution and habitat: Locally abundant in tall closed evergreen forest on sandy loams over schists and granites in the region inland from Vinh and Ha Tinh and south to Dong Ha, in mountain foothills in Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Dong Ha provinces in Vietnam. No occurrences have been reported in Laos, but with occurrences known within a few km of the border, this species can be expected to extend into Laos.

Conservation status: Not considered to be at risk. IUCN (1994) Red List status LR,nt.
Photo Ken Hill


Stems arborescent or acaulescent, to 1.2 m tall, 8-18 cm diam. at narrowest point; 4-15 leaves in crown.

Leaves deep green, highly glossy, 130-240 cm long, slightly keeled to flat (not keeled) in section (opposing leaflets inserted at 150-180° on rachis), with 80-110 leaflets, with orange or brown tomentum shedding as leaf expands; rachis consistently terminated by paired leaflets. Petiole 70-140 cm long (45-60% of total leaf), petiole glabrous, unarmed or spinescent for 0-100% of length. Basal leaflets not gradually reducing to spines, 170-240 mm long.

Median leaflets simple, strongly discolorous, 250-420 mm long, 14-20 mm wide, inserted at 50-80° to rachis, decurrent for 2-6 mm, narrowed to 2.5-4 mm at base (to 15-30% of maximum width), 15-21 mm apart on rachis; median leaflets section flat; margins flat or undulate; apex softly acuminate, not spinescent; midrib raised above, raised below.

Cataphylls narrowly triangular, soft, pilose, 50-70 mm long, articulated.

Pollen cones fusiform, brown or cream, 15-25 cm long, 4-7 cm diam.; microsporophyll lamina soft, not dorsiventrally thickened, 14-17 mm long, 7-10 mm wide, raised, apical spine absent.

Megasporophylls 9-13 cm long, brown-tomentose; ovules 2-4, glabrous; lamina orbicular, 35-55 mm long, 25-50 mm wide, deeply pectinate, with 15-25 soft lateral spines 20-35 mm long, apical spine distinct from lateral spines to not distinct from lateral spines, 25-40 mm long, 3-8 mm wide at base.

Seeds ovoid, 18-27 mm long, 15-25 mm wide; sarcotesta yellow, not pruinose, 1-2 mm thick; fibrous layer absent; sclerotesta verrucose. Spongy endocarp absent.

The Cycad Pages

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Written and maintained by Ken Hill 1998-2010
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