The Cycad Pages
Cycas campestris

Cycas campestris K.D. Hill, Austral. Syst. Bot. 7: 538-540 (1994). H—NSW
"TYPE: Papua New Guinea, Central District, Lea Lea Lakes, Laloki River, S. Jacobs 5950 & B. Conn, 18 Sep 1990 (holo NSW; iso BRI)."[NSW]

Etymology: From the Latin campestris, pertaining to plains or meadows, from the occurrence in open grassy country.

Illustration: Hill 1996, fig. 9.

Historical notes: Previously included in C. media (White 1922; Paijmans 1976).

Distinguishing features: C. campestris is distinguished by the relatively short leaves with short, stiff leaflets arranged at a high angle to the rachis, the continuous adaxial mesophyll above the midrib, and the broad megasporophyll lamina with numerous lateral spines. This species is nearest to C. schumanniana. Their differences are enumerated in discussion of the latter species (above). Differs from the Australian C. media in the shorter and stiffer leaflets (leaflets are 160-260 mm long in C. media), the continuous adaxial mesophyll across the midrib, and the relatively broader megasporophyll laminae with longer and less pungent lateral spines (lateral spines are 2-5 mm long in C. media).

Distribution and habitat: Papua New Guinea, south-eastern parts of the island, predominantly on the coastal plain around Port Moresby, extending from Kairuku south-east to Abau. Locally abundant but sporadic, in savanna woodland country. Often in more open and grassy areas prone to frequent fire (Paijmans 1976). In contrast with C. schumanniana, this species occurs only at low altitudes on the coastal plain.

Conservation status: Widespread and abundant, under no immediate threat of extinction.


Stems arborescent, to 2.5 m tall, 20 cm diam. at narrowest point.

Leaves bright green, highly glossy, 80-170 cm long, slightly keeled to flat (not keeled) in section (opposing leaflets inserted at 150-280° on rachis), with 120-230 leaflets, with orange tomentum shedding as leaf expands; rachis consistently terminated by paired leaflets. Petiole 15-50(-90) cm long (20-40(-55)% of total leaf), petiole glabrous, spinescent for 40-90% of length. Basal leaflets not gradually reducing to spines, 50-100 mm long.

Median leaflets simple, strongly discolorous, 85-160 mm long, 5-8 mm wide, inserted at 60-85° to rachis, decurrent for 1.5-4 mm, narrowed to 2.5-3.5 mm at base (to 35-50% of maximum width), 5.5-11 mm apart on rachis; median leaflets section slightly keeled; margins slightly recurved; apex aristate, spinescent; midrib flat above, raised below.

Cataphylls narrowly triangular, soft, pilose, persistent.

Pollen cones narrowly ovoid, orange to brown (pale), 13-17 cm long, 7-9 cm diam.; microsporophyll lamina firm, not dorsiventrally thickened, 33-40 mm long, 12-16 mm wide, fertile zone 30-35 mm long, sterile apex 3-5 mm long, raised, apical spine prominent, sharply upturned, 10-15 mm long.

Megasporophylls 13-25 cm long, grey-tomentose and brown-tomentose; ovules 2-6, glabrous; lamina ovate to lanceolate, 35-50 mm long, 20-40 mm wide, shallowly pectinate to regularly dentate, with 22-38 pungent lateral spines 4-9 mm long, 1 mm wide, apical spine distinct from lateral spines, 10-30 mm long.

Seeds flattened-ovoid, 29-38 mm long, 23-28 mm wide; sarcotesta orange-brown, not pruinose, 2-3.5 mm thick; fibrous layer absent; sclerotesta smooth. Spongy endocarp absent.

The Cycad Pages

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Written and maintained by Ken Hill 1998-2010
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