The Cycad Pages
Cycas saxatilis

Cycas saxatilis K.D. Hill & A. Lindtsr., "Telopea 12(1):128–129, fig. 2 " (2008). H—L
"TYPE: Philippines, Palawan, St Pauls Bay, major outcrop to SE, pendulous on limestone cliff face, Podzorski SMHI 2035, 6 Apr 1984 (holo L)."

Etymology: From the Latin saxatilis, dwelling among rocks, in reference to the soil-free cliff-face habitat

Historical notes: Apparently first collected in 1984, this singular and distinctive species was not recognised as new until 2001, and was undescribed until 2008.

Distinguishing features: It distinguished from all other species in the region by the limestone cliff habitat, the narrow pollen cones with no apical spines on microsporophylls. The type specimen consist of leaves and a male cone which most closely matches C. curranii. C. curranii is tall growing and erect on serpentine soil in rainforest. however the plants that were observed growing at St Pauls Bay are pendulous on limestone cliffs in exposed places and this field observation has lead to the conclusion that they are two different taxa, even though complete material of C. saxatilis (i.e. female cones and seeds) have not been seen.

Distribution and habitat: Known only from limestone outcrops of the St Pauls Mountain massif on Palawan.This species grows in crevices in vertical limestone cliffs with no soil.

Conservation status: Although it is known from a single locality, this mountain area is quite extensive, and plants are abundant in large, undisturbed populations in the most inaccessable sites. Most of the range is also included in the St Pauls Bay National Park. This species is not regarded as a threatened species. IUCN (2001) Red List status LC.


Stems arborescent, to 0.5–4 m tall; growing on bare vertical cliffs.

Leaves bright green, highly glossy, 160–190 cm long, slightly keeled or flat in section (opposing leaflets inserted at c. 150-180° on rachis), with 170–380 leaflets, tomentum shedding as leaf expands; rachis consistently terminated by paired leaflets; petiole 40–60 cm long (25–35% of total leaf), glabrous, spinescent for 50–90% of length; basal leaflets not gradually reducing to spines, 150–230 mm long.

Median leaflets simple, strongly discolorous, 220–340 mm long, 9–12 mm wide, inserted at 50–75° to rachis, decurrent for 3–5 mm, narrowed to 2.5–3 mm at base (to 20–25% of maximum width), 10–17 mm apart on rachis; section flat; margins flat, or slightly recurved, not undulate; apex acute, not spinescent; midrib raised above, raised below, narrow.

Pollen cones ovoid, cream or green, c. 49 cm long, c. 5 cm diam; microsporophyll lamina soft, not dorsiventrally thickened; level; apical spine rudimentary, upturned.

Megasporophylls and seeds not seen.

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
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