The Cycad Pages
Z. fischeri
Zamia fischeri
Photo Dennis Stevenson
GENUS  Zamia
D.W. Stevenson

Zamia L., Sp. Pl., ed. 2, 2: 1659 (1763); from the Greek azaniae a pine cone. Type: Z. pumila L.
Agenus of over 50 species, in the family Zamiaceae; South, Central & North America.
Distinguishing characters:

  • Leaves pinnate
  • Leaflets lacking a midrib
  • Leaflets articulated
  • Sporophylls in vertical rows in cones
  • Megasporophyll apices faceted or flattened, not spinose

Select a species, or go to the keys to species
Individual species pages will have literature references and synonyms, and eventually images, distribution maps, descriptions and general notes on the species. These are not yet all in place for all species, but the database is slowly growing. On species pages, click on thumbnail images to see full-screen images (Red dot indicates that a page has at least one image; Green dot indicates that a page has a complete treatment). links to images of type specimens held by the New York Botanical Garden (NY). links to images of the protologue or original description pertaining to the name.
Green dot Z. acuminata
Green dot Z. amazonum
    Z. amblyphyllidia
Green dot Z. amplifolia
Green dot Z. angustifolia
Green dot Z. boliviana
Green dot Z. chigua
Green dot Z. cremnophila
Green dot Z. cunaria
Green dot Z. disodon
Green dot Z. dressleri
Green dot Z. encephalartoides
Green dot Z. fairchildiana
Green dot Z. fischeri
Green dot Z. furfuracea
Green dot Z. gentryi
Green dot Z. herrerae
Green dot Z. hymenophyllidia
Green dot Z. inermis
Green dot Z. integrifolia
Green dot Z. ipetiensis
Green dot Z. lacandona
Green dot Z. lecointei
Green dot Z. loddigesii
Green dot Z. manicata
Green dot Z. melanorrhachis
Green dot Z. montana
Green dot Z. monticola
Green dot Z. muricata
Green dot Z. neurophyllidia
Green dot Z. obliqua
    Z. paucijuga
Green dot Z. poeppigiana
Green dot Z. polymorpha
Green dot Z. portoricensis
    Z. prasina
Green dot Z. pseudomonticola
Green dot Z. pseudoparasitica
Green dot Z. pumila
Green dot Z. purpurea
Green dot Z. pygmaea
Green dot Z. roezlii
Green dot Z. skinneri
Green dot Z. soconuscensis
Green dot Z. spartea
Green dot Z. standleyi
Green dot Z. tuerckheimii
Green dot Z. ulei
Green dot Z. urep
    Z. variegata
Green dot Z. vazquezii
    Z. verschaffeltii
Green dot Z. wallisii


Habit: dioecious palm- or fern-like shrubs with aerial or subterranean, pachycaul, cylindrical or globose stems, with few to many leaves. Leaf bases mostly not persistent. New leaves emerging singly or in flushes. Dichotomous branching common in geophytic species, basal offsets ("suckers") produced by some species.

Leaves: pinnate, spirally arranged, interspersed with cataphylls, lower leaflets not reduced to spines. Petioles often with prickles. Longitudinal ptyxis erect, horizontal ptyxis erect. Leaflets simple, with spiny margins in some species, with numerous bifurcating parallel veins and no distinct midrib, leaflets articulated, inserted near the edges of the rhachis towards the adaxial side, lacking a differently coloured basal gland; stomata on lower surface only or on both surfaces; epidermal cells elongated parallel to long axes of leaflets. Leaves pubescent, at least when young, with branched and simple, transparent and coloured hairs.

Microsporophylls: spirally orthostichous, aggregated into stalked or sessile male cones and each with a simple sterile apex, which is often flattened or faceted, sometimes weakly bilobed, never produced into an upturned spine. Each microsporophyll bearing numerous microsporangia (pollensacs) on the abaxial surfaces. Microsporangia opening by slits. Pollen cymbiform, monosulcate.

Megasporophylls: spirally orthostichous, aggregated into stalked or sessile female cones. Sporophylls simple, appearing peltate with a simple dilated apex which is usually hexagonal, often flattened or faceted, sometimes weakly bilobed, never produced into an upturned spine. Ovules two (rarely three), sessile, orthotropous, inserted on the inner (axis-facing) surface of the thickened lamina and directed inwards ("inverted").

Seeds: subglobular to oblong or ellipsoidal, with a red, orange, yellow or rarely white fleshy outer 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.

Key to species

1 Leaflets deeply grooved between veins above, ridged below, appearing plicate
2 Leaflets petiolulate -- Zamia wallisii
2* Leaflets sessile
3 Leaflets entire
4 Leaflets linear, falcate basally -- Zamia roezli
4* Leaflets elliptic to obovate
5 Leaflets obovate -- Zamia montana
5* Leaflets elliptic -- Zamia amplifolia
3 Leaflets with marginal teeth and/or apical teeth
6 Leaflets small, less than 30 cm long and 10 cm wide
7 Leaflets elliptic, 8-12 pairs, evenly toothed in upper third; stems arborescent -- Zamia neurophyllidia
7* Leaflets lanceolate to oblanceolate, 3-5 pairs, very coarsely toothed apically; stems hypogeous -- Zamia purpurea
6* Leaflets large, 30-50 cm long and 15-25 cm wide
8 Leaves 5 to many, 4-8 pairs of leaflets, stems to 2 m -- Zamia skinneri
8* Leaves 1-3, 2-5 pairs of leaflets, stems subterranean -- Zamia dressleri
1* Leaflets smooth and not appearing plicate
9 Leaflets with distinct petiolule and gland-like collar at the base of the blade
10 Gland a simple abaxial rim, leaflets less than 35 cm long and 7 cm wide -- Zamia manicata
10* Gland an abaxial flap that is adaxially rolled, leaflets greater than 40 cm long and 8 cm wide -- Zamia macrochiera
9* Leaflets sessile and without a gland-like collar
11 Petioles smooth
12 Leaflet margins entire
13 Leaflets sclerophyllous with pungent tips
14 Leaflets to 15 cm wide; microsporophyll facets shallowly inclined, microsporangia abaxial only, seeds brown -- Zamia inermis
14* leaflets to 3 cm wide; microsporophyll facets steeply inclined,, microsporangia abaxial and adaxial; seeds white -- Zamia encephalartoides
13* Leaflets papyraceous to coriaceous and tips not sharp
15 Leaflets 05-1 cm wide, linear; plants terrestrial, seeds red -- Zamia portoricensis
15* Leaflets 2-5 cm wide, falcate; plants epiphytic; seeds yellow -- Zamia pseudoparasitica
12* Leaflet margins toothed
16 Leaflets papyraceous to chartaceous, lanceolate to oblong or obpyriform
17 Leaves reflexed, leaflet pairs less than 12, lanceolate -- Zamia fischeri
17* Leaves erect, leaflet pairs 15-30, obpyriform -- Zamia vazquezii
16* Leaflets coriaceous, linear to elliptic to obovate
18 leaflets elliptic, plants with short trunk -- Zamia urep
18* Leaflets linear to linear-oblong
19 Leaflets linear to linear-oblong
20 Leaflets 2-5 mm wide, often rolled adaxially, apices acute with 1-3 callous teeth -- Zamia angustifolia
20* Leaflets 5-20 mm wide, flat, apices rounded, 10-20 teeth
21 Leaflet margins with 5-10 obscure, callous teeth at apex -- Zamia integrifolia
21* Leaflet margins with 10-20 obvious teeth in upper third -- Zamia pumila
19* Leaflets oblong-obovate to obovate
22 Leaflets less than 7 cm long, 3 cm wide -- Zamia pygmaea
22* Leaflets greater than 10 cm long, 3 cm wide -- Zamia amblyphyllidia
11* Petioles with at least a few prickles
23 Leaflet margins entire
24 Leaves 15-80 pairs of leaflets with acute apices
25 Leaflets chartaceous to membranous
26 40-80 pairs of imbricate leaflets, prickles often branched -- Zamia chigua
26* 15-20 pairs of widely spaced leaflets, prickles never branched -- Zamia gentryi
25* Leaflets coriaceous
27 Leaflets narrowly lanceolate, adaxially concave, rachis prickled -- Zamia soconuscensis
27* Leaflets linear-lanceolate, flat, rachis without prickles -- Zamia lecointei
24* Leaves with 6-15 pairs of leaflets with acuminate apices
28 Leaflets abruptly acuminate apically, prickles sparse to sometimes absent -- Zamia tuerckheimii
28* Leaflets drawn out into a long acuminate apex, prickles numerous
29 Leaflets 1-3 cm wide -- Zamia acuminata
29* Leaflets 3-6 cm wide -- Zamia pseudomonticola
23* Leaflet margins toothed
30 Leaflets variegated with small yellow spots -- Zamia variegata
30* Leaflets uniformly green
31 Leaflets membranous, margins with some biserrate teeth -- Zamia disodon
31* Leaflets papyraceous to coriaceous, margins with uniserrate teeth
32 Leaflets elliptic to oblong-elliptic, acuminate apically, margins finely serrulate
33 10-20 leaflet pairs, stems arborescent -- Zamia obliqua
33* 3-6 leaflet pairs, stems hypogeous -- Zamia ulei
32* Leaflets linear to lanceolate to obovate, acute or rounded apically, margins coarsely toothed
34 Leaflets obovate to oblong-obovate
35 Leaflets extremely coriaceous, pubescent at maturity -- Zamia furfuracea
35* Leaflets chartaceous, glabrous at maturity
36 Leaflets finely toothed at apex only -- Zamia ipetensis
36* Leaflets coarsely toothed in upper third -- Zamia cunaria
34* Leaflets linear to oblong-lanceolate

37 Marginal teeth spinulose and spreading at nearly a right angle
38 Leaves up to 1 m long, leaflets coriaceous, rachis without prickles -- Zamia standleyi
38* Leaves 15-25 m long, leaflets chartaceous, rachis with prickles -- Zamia poeppigiana
37* Marginal teeth serrate and at an acute angle or obscurely callous
39 Leaflet apices long acuminate and curved upwards, marginal teeth obscure -- Zamia monticola
39* Leaflet apices straight, short acuminate to acute
40 Leaflets less than 7 mm wide -- Zamia spartea
40* Leaflets greater than 10 mm wide
41 Leaflets imbricate -- Zamia cremnophila
41* Leaflets non-imbricate
42 Leaflets dull grey-green, glaucous -- Zamia loddigesii
42* Leaflets green and non-glaucous
43 Rachis without prickles
44 Leaflets oblong-lanceolate, 3-8 cm wide -- Zamia verschaffeltii
44* Leaflets linear-lanceolate curved apically, 15-5 cm wide -- Zamia lacandona
43* Rachis with prickles
45 Petiole and rachis densely prickled, prickles stout
46 Leaflets falcate basally, prickles never branched, petiole glabrous -- Zamia fairchildiana
46* Leaflets, cuneate basally, prickles often branched, petiole ferruginous -- Zamia amazonum
45* Petiole and rachis moderately to sparsely prickled
47 Prickles minute, less than 1 mm -- Zamia melanorrhachis
47* Prickles conspicuous
48 Leaflets linear-lanceolate, marginal teeth distant, 0.5-1 cm apart -- Zamia herrerae
48* Leaflets oblong to ovate to oblong-lanceolate, marginal teeth close set, less that 5 mm apart
49 Petiole more than one-half as long as the rachis -- Zamia muricata
49* Petiole less than one-half as long as the rachis
50 Marginal teeth inconspicuous, limited to apical region -- Zamia paucijuga
50* Marginal teeth conspicuous, in upper two-thirds -- Zamia polymorpha

The Cycad Pages

© 1998-2012 Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
Written and maintained by Ken Hill 1998-2010
Maintained by Leonie Stanberg and Dennis Stevenson 2010-2012
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