The Cycad Pages
GENUS  Bowenia
K.D. Hill

Bowenia Hook. ex Hook.f., Bot. Mag. 89 (1863), sub t. 5398; commemorating Sir George F. Bowen (1821-1899), first governor of Queensland (1859-1868).
Type: B. spectabilis Hook. ex Hook.f.

A taxonomically isolated genus of two species, endemic in Australia (eastern Queensland). Both species are localised in occurrence, although abundant where they occur. Taxonomic placement of the genus has been problematic, with different treatments placing it either in a monogeneric family of its own, or together with Stangeria in the Stangeriaceae, or in the Zamiaceae.
Distinguishing characters:

  • Leaves bipinnate
  • Leaflets lacking a midrib
  • Leaflets not articulated
  • Sporophylls in vertical rows in cones

Key to the species. Click on the name to go to the species page.
On species pages, click on thumbnail images to see full-screen images. links to images of the protologue or original description pertaining to the name.
1 Pinnules entire or a few irregularly lacerate 1. B. spectabilis
1* Pinnules regularly serrate
2 Caudex subspherical with 5-20 leaf-bearing branches, largest leaves with more than 12 pinnae 2. B. serrulata
2* Caudex ovoid to spherical with 1-7 leaf-bearing branches, largest leaves with less than 11 pinnae 1. B. spectabilis


Habit: dioecious fern-like shrubs with a naked subterranean stem producing one to many short, slender, determinate leaf and conebearing branches, sometimes themselves branched. New leaves emerging singly. Cataphylls absent.

Leaves: bipinnate, longitudinal ptyxis circinate, horizontal ptyxis involute. Leaflets with circinate ptyxis and often a true terminal leaflet, lower leaflets not reduced to spines. Petioles lacking spines or prickles. Leaflets flat, lacking a midrib, with numerous subparallel longitudinal veins and stomata on both surfaces, individual ptyxis flat. Leaves pubescent, at least when young, with coloured or transparent, unbranched hairs.

Microsporophylls: spirally orthostichous, aggregated into male cones and each with a simple, peltate sterile apex, which is not produced into a terminal spine. Each microsporophyll bearing numerous microsporangia (pollen-sacs) on the undersurface. Microsporangia opening by slits. Pollen cymbiform, monosulcate. Male cones stalked, ovoid.

Megasporophylls: spirally orthostichous, aggregated into female cones. Sporophylls simple, with a dilated peltate apex or lamina which is not produced into a terminal spine. Ovules two (rarely three), sessile, orthotropous, inserted on the inner (axisfacing) surface of the thickened lamina and directed inwards ("inverted"). Female cones stalked but not elevated above soil surface, ovoid to globose; sporophylls in about 8 ranks, the expanded ends hexagonal.

Seeds: subglobular to ovoid, with a white aging to purple sarcotesta. Endosperm haploid, derived from the female gametophyte. Embryo straight; with 2 cotyledons that are usually united at the tips and a very long, spirally twisted suspensor. Seeds radiospermic; germination cryptocotular.

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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