Photo Ken Hill
The Cycad Pages
Cycas fugax

Cycas fugax "K.D. Hill, T.H. Nguyen & K.L. Phan", "Bot. Rev. 70(2): 145-146, fig.3" (2004). H—HN
"TYPE: Vietnam: Phu Tho: Phong Chau, Tram Than, Lam, 400-900 m alt., T.H. Nguyen 4112 & K.D. Hill, 13 Jan 2000 (holo HN, iso NSW)."

Etymology: from the Latin fugax, fleeting or ephemeral, referring to the near extinction of this species before it was recognised as a botanical entity.

Historical notes: Discovered and recognised as a distinct species only in the late 1990's.

Distinguishing features: The few leaves with few, widely spaced leaflets, the small male cones with microsporophylls which possess a distinct apiculus and the elongated teeth on the megasporophylls distinguish C. fugax within a group of acaulescent taxa that have megasporophylls lacking a clearly distinct apical spine.

Distribution and habitat: known only from Phu Tho province in the north of Vietnam, at about 200 metres elevation. Originally growing in closed evergreen forests on low hills of orange-brown alluvial loam. Almost all of this forest on this substrate has been cleared for tea, eucalypt and Acacia plantations.

Conservation status: Apparently always a very rare and restricted species, known only from a severely threatened habitat. This species must be regarded as critically endangered, and urgently in need of both close study to evaluate the conservation status, and protective measures to save it from extinction. IUCN (1994) status EN.


Stems acaulescent, 8-12 cm diam. at narrowest point; 1-3 leaves in crown.

Leaves deep green, highly glossy or semiglossy, 280-400 cm long, flat (not keeled) in section (opposing leaflets inserted at 180° on rachis), with 70-110 leaflets, with orange tomentum shedding as leaf expands; rachis consistently terminated by paired leaflets. Petiole 150-220 cm long (50-60% of total leaf), petiole glabrous, spinescent for 90-95% of length. Basal leaflets not gradually reducing to spines, 300-400 mm long.

Median leaflets simple, strongly discolorous, 420-500 mm long, 19-31 mm wide, inserted at 65-70° to rachis, decurrent for 2-6 mm, narrowed to 2-2.5 mm at base (to 6-12% of maximum width), 30-40 mm apart on rachis; median leaflets section flat; margins flat or undulate; apex softly acuminate, not spinescent; midrib raised above, raised below.

Cataphylls linear, soft, pilose, 50-60 mm long, persistent.

Pollen cones fusiform, yellow, 10-12 cm long, 2.5-5 cm diam.; microsporophyll lamina soft, not dorsiventrally thickened, apex level, apical spine prominent or rudimentary, sharply upturned, 2-5 mm long.

Megasporophylls 20-24 cm long, brown-tomentose; ovules 2-4, glabrous; lamina ovate, 110-130 mm long, 35-40 mm wide, deeply pectinate, with 10-12 soft lateral spines 80-100 mm long, 3 mm wide, apical spine not distinct from lateral spines.

Seeds subglobose, 18-22 mm long, 15-20 mm wide; sarcotesta yellow, not pruinose; 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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