The Cycad Pages
Cycas curranii

Cycas curranii (J. Schust.) K.D. Hill, Proc. Third Int. Conf. Cycad Biol.: 150 (1995). L—K

Etymology: Honouring US-born forester H.M. Curran, collector of the type specimen.

Literature: Zamora & Co 1986 (as C. wadei).

Illustrations: Zamora & Co 1986

Historical notes: The first record of a distinctive cycad from Palawan was by Merrill (1911), who recorded "... a very slender staminate cone. Probably a new species ...". Nothing more was done until German botanist Julius Schuster in 1932 attached the above quadrinomial based on the specimen collected by Curran. This in no way reflects the relationships and affinities of C. curranii, and this taxon was generally ignored subsequently until raised to species rank in 1996 by Australian botanist Ken Hill. Zamora & Co (1986) listed plants from Palawan as C. wadei, a closely related species.

Large seed collections from the wild were distributed in the early 1990's, and plants from these are now abundant in cultivation.

Distinguishing features: Readily distinguished by the combination of the symmetrically ribbed sclerotesta and the broad leaflets. Only C. wadei shares the ribbed sclerotesta, although seeds of the latter are half as large as those of C. curranii, and leaflets are narrower.

Distribution and habitat: Know only from Palawan Island, a species of primary closed forests on the mountainous serpentinite outcrops that make up the central "spine" of the island. It also occurs on alluvial boulders outwash and stream banks on rivers flowing out from the mountains.

Conservation status: Widespread, although individuals are scattered as is the case with many species of closed forest cycads. There are vast areas of relatively undisturbed forest that are host to this species in the Palawan mountains, and it is not considered to be at risk (IUCN Red List category LR,nt).


Stems arborescent, to 3 m tall.

Leaves deep green, highly glossy to semiglossy, tomentum shedding as leaf expands. Petiole glabrous, spinescent. Basal leaflets not gradually reducing to spines.

Median leaflets simple, strongly discolorous, 260-280 mm long, 11-13 mm wide; section flat; margins flat; not spinescent; midrib raised above, flat below.

Cataphylls pilose, persistent.

Pollen cones fusiform; microsporophyll lamina waxy, not dorsiventrally thickened, apex deflexed, apical spine absent.

Megasporophyll lamina orbicular, deeply pectinate, apical spine distinct from lateral spines; ovules glabrous.

Seeds subglobose to ovoid; sarcotesta yellow, not pruinose; fibrous layer absent; sclerotesta longitudinally ribbed. Spongy endocarp absent.

The Cycad Pages

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Written and maintained by Ken Hill 1998-2010
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