Photo Knut Norstog
The Cycad Pages
Zamia roezlii

Zamia roezlii Linden, Catalogue des Plantes Nouvelles 9: 10 (1873).
"TYPE: the illustration: Ill. Hortic. 20: pl. 133-134, 1873 (fide Stevenson & Sabato 1986)."

Photo Dennis Stevenson

Etymology: The specific epithet honors Benedict Roezl a prodigious plant collector who traveled throughout Mexico, Central America and South America in the of the latter half of the nineteenth century and who first collected the species.

Historical notes: In the past there has been some confusion concerning the identity of Z. roezlii ( Norstog, 1986; Sabato, 1990) and the species has been referred to as Z. chigua. 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 as discussed by Norstog in "Zamia chigua, a case of mistaken identity?" in Fairchild Tropical Garden Bulletin 41(1): 6-13. 1986.

Distinguishing features: Zamia roezlii is readily distinguishable from other species with deeply grooved leaflets by its the falcate, linear, entire leaflets. Z. roezlii is the largest South American Zamia and is unmistakable with its massive trunk, leaves, and strobili.

This species would appear to part of a complex composed of Z. dressleri, Z. neurophyllidia, and Z. skinneri in Panama, Z. amplifolia and Z. roezlii in the Choco of Colombia and adjacent Ecuador, and Z. wallisii in Northern Antioquia, Colombia. This grouping is based upon the common occurrence of the plicate appearance of the leaflets of these species. This character, along with simultaneous rather than sequential leaf production, prompted Regel (1876) to erect the segregate genus Aulacophyllum. However, no other synapomorphies have been found to support Aulacophyllum as a genus (Sabato, 1990). Moreover, the distinction between simultaneous and sequential leaf production in Zamia seems problematic at best.

Distribution and habitat: Along coastal Choco, Colombia and contiguous coastal Ecuador at near sea level.

Conservation: Zamia roezlii is locally abundant and produces very large seed cones and thus numerous seeds and seedlings. However, seed cones are produced by arborescent plants and under continual disturbance seed production will be severely diminished resulting in high vulnerability. 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Category R,II,V.
Photo Calaway Dodson
Photo Dennis Stevenson


Stem arborescent, to 7 m tall.

Leaves 5-10, 1-3 m long; petiole 0.5-1 m long, sparsely to densely prickled; rachis with 10-20 pairs of leaflets, occasionally with a few prickles in the lower third.

Leaflets linear-lanceolate, falcate, grooved between the veins on the adaxial surface, cuneate basally, acute apically, margins entire, 30-50 cm long, 12-15 cm wide.

Pollen cones cream to tan, cylindrical to elongate-cylindrical, 20-30 cm long, 4-6 cm diam.

Seed cones brown, short pedunculate, cylindrical to ovoid cylindrical, 30-60 cm long, 10-20 cm diam.

Seeds red, ovoid, 1.5-2.5 cm diam.

2n = 22, 24, 25, 26.

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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