Photo Dennis Stevenson
The Cycad Pages
Zamia ulei

Zamia ulei U. Dammer, Verh. Bot. Vereins Prov. Brandenburg 47: 117-118 (1907).
"TYPE: Brazil, Chachoeira oberer Rio Jura, May 1901, E. Ule 5523 (lecto HBG, iso L, G, MG, F, K)."

Etymology: The specific epithet honors E. Ule, an Amazonian plant collector of the latter half of the nineteenth century who first collected the species in Brazil.

Historical notes: Ducke (1915) described Z. lecointei and mentioned another probable new Zamia which he described as Z. cupatiensis in 1922. The type, illustration (Ducke, 1915: t.1), and description of Z. lecointei all show linear-lanceolate leaflets. Ducke's (1915) concept of Z. ulei is presented in t.2 of the same paper; this bears little resemblance to the type or description (Dammer, 1907) of Z. ulei which has ovate-lanceolate to elliptic leaflets. As a result of his misconception, Ducke described Z. cupatiensis in 1922. The description and photograph of Z. cupatiensis (Ducke, 1922, t.2) match the photograph and isotypes of Z. ulei. Thus, Z. cupatiensis is considered a synonym of Z. ulei.

Distinguishing features: Zamia ulei is similar to Z. obliqua but the latter always has oblique leaflets and Z. ulei always has symmetrical leaflets. Moreover, adult plants of Z. obliqua are arborescent in contrast to the acaulescent stems of Z. ulei. Zamia ulei is also similar to Z. urep. Zamia urep differs from Z. ulei in having a short slender trunk and lanceolate to elliptic, asymmetrical leaflets with very coarsely serrate margins in contrast to the symmetrical, elliptic leaflets with fine serrations on Z. ulei. Zamia urep is isolated in Central Peru.

Distribution and habitat: North of the Amazon River in Para and Rio Branco, Brazil and disjunct to the bordering regions of western Brazil and eastern Peru and Colombia

Conservation: Zamia ulei is fairly common in sporadic populations throughout its range. Seed set and seedling establishment appear to be high. Not listed in the 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants.
Photo Douglas Daly


Stem subterranean and tuberous, tapering distally, 4-6 cm in diam.

Leaves 2-4, 1-1.5 m long, broadly ovate; petiole to 1 m long, terete, generally armed with numerous prickles; rachis to 50 cm long, with 3-6 pairs of subopposite leaflets, often armed with prickles in the lower third.

Leaflets sessile, papyraceous to subcoriaceous, oblong-elliptic to elliptic-ovate, sometimes slightly falcate, obtuse and constricted at base, acute to short-acuminate at apex, 12-15 teeth on each margin in the upper one-half, the median ones 12-20 cm long, 6-10 cm wide.

Pollen cones usually 2-5, tan, cylindrical, 6-10 cm long, 1-2 cm in diameter; peduncle 6-8 cm long.

Seed cones 4-6 cm in diameter; peduncle 8-10 cm long.

Seeds red, ovoid to oblong, 15 mm long, 8 mm in diameter.

2n = 26.

The Cycad Pages

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Written and maintained by Ken Hill 1998-2010
Maintained by Leonie Stanberg and Dennis Stevenson 2010-2012
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