from Seemann (1854) plate 43
The Cycad Pages
Zamia chigua

Zamia chigua Seem., "Bot. Voy. Herald 6: 201-203, t. 43" (1854). t. 43
"TYPE: the illustration: t. 43 (lecto, fide Stevenson & Sabato 1986)."

Etymology: The specific epithet is in reference to a transliteration of the name used by indigenuous people for cycads.

Historical notes: In the past there has been some confusion concerning the identity of Z. chigua (Norstog, 1986; Sabato, 1990). The reason for this was the lack of typification of various Zamia species and the use of the common name of "chigua" by indigenous people in the Choco of Colombia. The common name "chigua" is apparently applied to several species of Zamia. As a result of this confusion, Z. roezlii Linden was thought to be Z. chigua and the latter was referred to as Z. "helecho" in horticulture.

Distinguishing features: Up to 80 pairs of membranous, entire, imbricate leaflets and with petiole and rachis bearing numerous stout and often branched prickles.

Distribution and habitat: Zamia chigua is found in the Chiriqui region of Panama and is disjunct in the Choco of Colombia. In Columbia, Z. chigua is found in lowland rainforest whereas known localities from Panama are from 600-1200 m. This species is probably present on the slopes of Cerro Pirre and the western slopes of Cordillera de Jurado in Darien, Panama and adjacent Colombia but has yet to be collected there.

Conservation status: Zamia chigua is quite common locally in both Panama and in the Choco of Colombia. Its only threat seems to be from habitat destruction. It sets seed locally but nothing is yet known about its reproductive biology. 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Category R,II,V.


Stem arborescent, to 2 m tall and 15 cm diam, wrinkled in appearance.

Cataphylls triangular basally, lanceolate apically, 3-6 cm long, 2-3 cm wide.

Leaves 3-15, 0.5 - 3 m long; petiole to 1 m long, very densely prickled; rachis with 30-80 (less in juvenile plants) pairs of imbricate leaflets, densely prickled in lower half.

Leaflets imbricate, long-lanceolate and subfalcate, chartaceous to membranous, margins entire, the larger median ones 10-30 cm long, 1-1.5 cm wide.

Pollen cones cream to light yellow, cylindrical, 10-20 cm long, 2-3 cm diam.

Seed cones tan to light brown, narrowly ovoid to cylindrical, 20-30 cm long, 8-12 cm diam.

Seeds ovoid, red.

2n = 16.

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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