|Photo Dennis Stevenson
|The Cycad Pages
- Zamia pseudoparasitica Yates in Seem., "Bot. Voy. Herald 6: 201-203, 253" (1854).
- "TYPE: Panama, Chagres, Warszewicz s.n. (holo BM)."
Zamia pseudoparasitica var. latifolia J. Schust., "in Engl., Pflanzenr. 4(1): 142" (1932).
- TYPE: description (lecto fide Stevenson & Sabato 1986).
With reference to the epiphytic habitat of the species.
First described in 1854 this species was not seen again until rediscovered
by Robert Dressler in 1975. Zamia pseudoparasitica has been
confused with Zamia fairchildiana a terrestrial species also
found in the same region in Panama. However, even though both species
have basally falcate leaflets, Z. fairchildiana has serrated
leaflet margins in contrast to the entire left margins of Z.
pseudoparasitica. Moreover, the two species are not sympatric.
That is the former does not grow under trees containing the latter.
Besides being the only species of Zamia that is epiphytic and that
has yellow seeds, Z. pseudoparasitica can also be distinguished by
its large coriaceous leaves with basally falcate leaflets that have
entire margins and are devoid of any grooves or striations.
Distribution and habitat:
Zamia pseudoparasitica, endemic to Panama, occurs from 50-1000 m
in trees on steep slopes in rainforest and cloudforest. It appears to be
limited to primary forest perhaps because it can not be established
smaller trees in the establishment of secondary forest. Zamia
pseudoparasitica is the only truly epiphytic cycad and is not found
as a terrestrially growing plant. It hangs from branches by the tap and
lateral roots and generally is found from 7-20 meters above the ground
on large trunks and in lower crotches of large canopy trees. The portion
of these trunks with plants of Z. pseudoparasitica are generally
devoid of other epiphytes such as bromeliads, orchids, ericads, etc.
The stem of Z. pseudoparasitica grows upwards but as the plant
becomes larger and heavier it becomes pendulous and the stem develops
a pronounced U-shape. As with most cycads, coralloid roots are produced
but unlike other cycads the coralloid roots occur in dense hemispherical
clusters that attain diameters of 5-10 cm. The leaves, strobili, and
seeds are among the largest in the genus. The seeds are unique in
Zamia because of their distinct yellow sarcotesta. This
unique sarcotesta is thick and becomes mucilaginous upon ripening
and produces a distinctive sour odor. Neither plants or seedlings
have been found growing on the forest floor under trees with ovulate
plants even though old ungerminated seeds have been found. Thus, it
appears as if Z. pseudoparasitica is dispersed by animals,
most likely frugivorous bats.
1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants
|Photo Dennis Stevenson
|Photo Ken Hill
Plants epiphytic with arborescent stems, to 1 m long and 15 cm
Leaves 3-10, 1-3 m long; petiole inermis, 0.3-1 m long; rachis
inermis, with 20-50 pairs of leaflets.
Leaflets gray-green, coriaceous, oblanceolate, subfalcate
basally, acute apically, margins entire, the median ones 30-50 cm long,
2-4 cm wide.
Pollen cones cream to tan, cylindrical, 25-50 cm long, 2-4 cm diam.
Seed cones yellow-green to tan, cylindrical to ovoid- cylindrical,
25-50 cm long, 8-12 cm diam.
Seeds yellow, sarcotesta becoming mucilaginous, 1.5-2.5 cm long,
2n = 16 (Norstog in Caryologia 33: 419-428. 1980).