Photo Christopher Hardy
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The Cycad Pages
Zamia poeppigiana

Zamia poeppigiana Mart. & Eichler, Fl. Bras. 4: 414-416 (1863).
"TYPE: Peru, Maynas Alto, Tocaehe River, 1830, Poeppig s.n. (lecto F, iso GH, fide Stevenson & Sabato 1986)."


Etymology: The specific epithet honours Eduard Friedrich Poeppig (1798-1868) a German botanist, zoologist, and explorer from Leipzig who first collected the species during an expedition to Brazil and Peru (1829-1832).

Historical notes: Zamia poeppigiana often grows in rich humus soils and on the rotting trunks of fallen trees hence the reference to Z. parasitica in Poeppig's field notes. There has been much confusion regarding Z. lindenii and Z. poeppigiana. The descriptions and type material for both names are identical and they are here considered conspecific. This is supported by the fact that specimens collected by André in Ecuador in 1885 (more than ten years after he described Z. lindenii) bear labels in his handwriting with the name Zamia lindenii André. These specimens match the type specimen of Z. poeppigiana which has nomenclatural priority. However, Calway Dodson (pers. com.) has suggested that the seeds of Z. poeppigiana from Pacific Ecuador (the region of the type and subsequent material collected by Édouard André as Z. lindenii) are not distinctly flattened as are those of Z. poeppigiana from the eastern side of the Andes.

Distinguishing features: The long-lanceolate leaflets with perfectly parallel margins combined with the falcate leaflet base and evenly spaced spreading marginal teeth. In addition, leaflets in living plants bear the impression, in the form of a slight to pronounced fold, of the adjacent leaflets as a result of the imbricate pytxis and compression of emerging leaves.

Distribution and habitat: Known from the coastal plains and foothills of the Cordillera Occidental in Ecuador and rich humus soils of Acre, Brazil and Southwestern Colombia.

Conservation: Zamia poeppigiana is widely but sporadically distributed. Local populations exhibit good seed set and seedling establishment. Unlike Z. obliqua, another trunk species, Z. poeppigiana appears to produce seed cones when the stems are not yet arborescent thus reducing the threat from habitat destruction. Not listed in the 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants.
Photo Christopher Hardy
Photo Timothy Plowman

Description:

Stem arborescent, to 4 m tall and 25 cm diam.

Cataphylls cuneate basally and acuminate apically, to 2 cm wide and 4 cm long.

Leaves 10-15, 1-3 m long; petiole with numerous small prickles, 30-70 cm long; rachis with prickles in lower third, 20-40 pairs of leaflets.

Leaflets long-lanceolate, falcate basally, acuminate to acute apically, margins strongly serrate in upper third with serrations at nearly 90o and 0.5-1 cm apart, the median ones 15-40 cm long, 2-4 cm wide.

Polleniferous strobili cream to tan, long cylindric, 20-30 cm long, 3-5 cm diam.; peduncle 5-8 cm long.

Microsporophylls with sterile tip composed of six steeply inclined facets surrounding a centrally depressed terminal facet.

Ovulate strobili tan to brown, cylindrical to ovoid- cylindrical, 25-40 cm long, 10-15 cm diam.

Seeds red, oblong, distinctly flattened, 1-1.5 cm long, 0.5-0.8 cm diam.

2n = 16 (Moretti, unpubl. data from Caputo et al. Amer. J. Bot. 83: 1513-1520. 1996).


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