|Photo Dennis Stevenson
|The Cycad Pages
- Zamia pumila L., "Sp. Pl., ed. 2, 2: 1659" (1763).
- "TYPE: the illustration: J. Commelin, Horti Med. Amstelod. 1: t.58, 1697 (fide Eckenwalder 1980)."
The specific epithet literally means dwarf or pygmy. Although Z.
pumila certainly is not the smallest of the species of Zamia
when compared to Z. pygmaea or Z. fischeri, it was the
only Zamia known when Linneaus described the species in 1763.
He included the then known cycads, C. circinalis and Z.
pumila, in the pinnately leaved palms and consequently in
comparison considered the Zamia to be a dwarfed palm.
Zamia pumila was the first species described for the genus and
hence is the type species for Zamia and the Zamiaceae.
Historically there has been much confusion as to the identity of
this species and as consequent there are numerous synonyms and
redescriptions in the older literature. The concept became more
stabilized with the formal lecotypification by Eckenwalder
and the subsequent identification of numerous synonyms.
Reddish seed cones with a distinct acuminate tip combined with
leaflets with distinct apical teeth serve to distinguish Z.
pumila from Z. integrifolia.
Distribution and habitat:
Historically the range of Z. pumila was Central Cuba, Southern
Puerto Rico, and Hispaniola. The species is now limited to Central
Cuba and the Dominican Republic and appears to have been eradicated
due to intensive land use in Southern Puerto Rico and Haiti. Plants
do particularly well is very well drained soils. This includes
limestone soils and even sandy beach strand soils. Generally speaking
the plants that are in a situation under shrubs are more vigorous.
Zamia pumila is fairly common throughout its current range
particularly in the Dominican Republic. Not listed in
1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants
because it is not considered threatened.
Stems subterranean and tuberous, 3-10  cm in diameter,
often dichotomously branched.
Cataphylls from 1-2 cm long, sheathing at first, with a pair
of inconspicuous stipules.
Leaves 2-15; petioles with stipules, smooth; rachis smooth,
bearing 5-30 pairs of leaflets.
Leaflets oblong, acute to somewhat rounded apically, often
deeply cleft, with 10-15 distinct teeth in upper fourth, median ones
8-25 cm long and 0.5-2 cm wide.
Pollen cones 1-30, pedunculate, dark reddish brown, cylindrical
to ovoid-cylindrical, apex acute, 3-15 cm long and 0.8-2 cm in diameter.
Seed cones 1-5, pedunculate, dark reddish brown sometimes,
cylindrical to slightly ovoid with acuminate apex,6-15 cm long and
4-6 cm in diam.
Seeds with a red to orange-red, ovoid, 1-2 cm long.
2n = 16.