Photo Dennis Stevenson
The Cycad Pages
Zamia muricata

Zamia muricata Willd., "Sp. Pl., ed. 4, 4: 847-848" (1806).
"TYPE: Venezuela, prope Porto Cabello, Humboldt & Bonpland s.n.; Willd. Herb. n. 18536 (holo B-W, iso U)."

Zamia muricata var. angustifolia Miq., Monogr. Cycad.: 66 (1842). H—U

"TYPE: ex Horto Spaarnberg, Miquel s.n. (holo U)."
Zamia muricata var. obtusifolia Miq., Tijdschr. Natuurl. Gesch. Physiol. 10: 71-72 (1843). "t. 7, fig. a in Linnaea 19: 1847"
"TYPE: the illustration: F. Miquel, Linnaea 19(4): t. 7 fig. a, 1848 (neo, fide Stevenson & Sabato 1986)."

Etymology: In reference to the small sharp teeth of the leaflets margins.

Historical notes: Until the middle of the 20th century most material of Z. muricata was from a few cultivated plants introduced into Europe and elsewhere such as Cuba. Because the origin of cultivated plants is often obscure, the confusion created leads to needless redescriptions. In the case of Z. muricata, material introduced to Cuba was described as Z. gutierrezi in 1868 by Sauville. Schuster (1932), probably without seeing type material, reduced it to a variety under Z. media which he thought was from Cuba. Eckenwalder (1980) realizing that the type was not from the Caribbean placed Z. gutierrezi in synonymy with Z. furfuracea. However, the type material of Z. gutierrezi does not have corieacous leaflets, obovate leaflets, and most importantly the persistent hairs of Z. furfuracea but instead is a match for the type of Z. muricata.

Distinguishing features: Zamia muricata is most similar to Z. lecointei. The two taxa share a common distribution pattern but are not sympatric and prefer different habitats. Z. muricata grows as an understory plant in mesic conditions in wet clay soils whereas Zamia lecointei grows in open dry areas of sandy to pure sand soils. Z. muricata has chartaceous to papyraceous, oblong-lanceolate to lanceolate, inequilateral leaflets that are clearly denticulate in the upper half of both margins. In contrast, Z. lecointei has subcoriaceous to coriaceous, linear-lanceolate, subfalcate leaflets that are entire or with only 1-3 indistinct apical teeth.

Distribution and habitat: Northeastern and coastal Colombia to central coastal area of Venezuela. Zamia muricata grows as an understory plant mainly from sea level to 300 m in primary forest to well-established secondary forest on rocky to clay soils.

Conservation: In coastal Venezuela the species does well in both undisturbed habitats and at the margins of local gardens. Its status in Colombia is more enigmatic because very few localities are known and these are in quite remote areas so there is insufficient data. 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants category R,II,I for Colombia and R,II,R for Venezuela.
Photo Dennis Stevenson


Stem semi-hypogeous to slightly epigeous, to 15 cm tall, 3-8 cm in diameter.

Cataphylls triangular basally, linear-lanceolate apically, 3-8 cm long, 1-2 cm wide.

Leaves 2-6, 1-2 m long, oval to elliptic; petiole 0.5-1 m long, often with a shallow groove on the upper side, armed with small 1-2 mm long prickles on the lower side; rachis 0.5-1 m long, with 6-12 subopposite pairs of leaflets, rarely armed with prickles in the lower third.

Leaflets chartaceous to papyraceous, inequilateral, oblong-lanceolate to lanceolate, long-acuminate at apex, constricted at base and articulated with rachis by means of a callous ring of tissue, denticulate in upper half, 15-20 cm long, 2-4 cm wide.

Pollen cones 2-6, cylindrical, cream to light brown, 6-10 cm long, 1-2 cm in diameter; peduncle 10-20 cm long.

Seed cones usually solitary, brown, 10-15 cm long, 3-5 cm in diameter; peduncle 5-8 cm long.

Seeds with a red outer fleshy layer, ovoid, 3 cm long, 2 cm in diameter.

2n = 24.

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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