The Cycad Pages
Cycas annaikalensis

Cycas annaikalensis Rita Singh & P. Radha, Brittonia 58(2): 119-123 (2006). H—IUPH
"TYPE: India, Kerala, Palaghat, Annaikal hills, 940 m, Rita Singh, P. Radha and Prabha Sharma (0491) 0144, May 2003 (holo IPUH (CAL), iso DD)."

Etymology: The specific epithet refers to the name of the locality, Annaikal hills where this population is located. In Malayalam, annai = elephant, and kal = rock.

Historical notes: Distinguished as a separate species during field surveys (2001–2004) by Indian botanist Rita Singh.

Distinguishing features: Cycas annakailensis differs from C. spherica and C. circinalis in having steel grayish smooth trunk, the higher number of leaflets, the angle of attachment of the median leaflets to rachis and the larger microsporophyll. It differs from C. indica in the same features, and in the possession of a megasporophyll with a distinct terminal spine.

Distribution and habitat: Cycas annaikalensis is currently described from a single population of less than 100 individuals over an area of 100–250 square metres on the Annaikal hills near Palaghat at an altitude of 940 m. Plants grow as an understorey element on steep slopes of coarse black humus soil with a thick canopy of tropical flowering trees. Assessing the habitat, it is assumed that this species may also occur in adjacent Reserve Forest areas, but comprehensive exploration has yet to be done to assess the number of populations and plants occurring in the region

Conservation status: Not known. IUCN (2001) Red List status DD.


Stems approximately 5 m tall, 19–61 diam.

Leaves bright green, semiglossy, 100–250 cm long, flat (not keeled) in cross-section, (opposing leaflets inserted at 180° on rachis), with 200–240 leaflets, tomentum shedding as leaf expands. Petiole 50–90 cm long, spinescent for 100% of length,spines 0.9–3 mmlong. Basal leaflets not gradually reducing to spines.

Median leaflets simple, weakly discolorous, 260–350 mm long, 8–12 mm wide, inserted at 50–55º to rachis; section flat; margins flat, not undulate; apex softly acuminate, not spinescent; midrib raised above, flat below, narrow.

Cataphylls narrowly triangular, soft, thinly sericeous or lacking tomentum.

Pollen cones sub-conical, yellowish orange prior to dehiscence, 30–50 cm long, 15–21 cm diam., microsporophyll lamina firm, not dorsiventrally thickened, 63–83 mm long, 18–26 mm wide, fertile zone 20–32 mm long, sterile apex 38–47 mm long, gradually raised and merging into spine.

Megasporophylls 9–25 cm long, persistently densely ferruginous-tomentose; ovules 2–10, glabrous; lamina triangular, 19–55 mm long, 13–40 mm wide, regularly dentate with 5–18 lateral spines 5–8 mm long, apical spine distinct from lateral spines, 3–25 mm long, 4–7 mm wide at base.

Seeds 2–10 globose, 38–49 x 35–43 mm, sarcotesta green when young, becoming yellow at maturity, fibrous layer absent, sclerotesta smooth, spongy endotesta absent.

The Cycad Pages

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