The Cycad Pages
Cycas couttsiana

Cycas couttsiana K.D. Hill, "Telopea 5(1): 197-198, fig. 13" (1992). H—NSW
"TYPE: Australia, Queensland, Burke District: Chudleigh Park station, Gregory Range, on the upper Stawell River, Hill 3738 & Stanberg, 29 July 1990 (holo NSW; iso BRI, CANB, DNA, K, MEL)."[NSW][NSW]

Etymology: Honouring Pat and David Coutts, cycad enthusiasts of Townsville, at the time leaseholders of `Chudleigh Park' station, who brought this taxon to botanical attention and who were endeavouring to ensure its conservation in habitat.

Illustration: Hill 1992, fig. 13.

Historical notes:

Distinguishing features: Distinguished from other Australian species by the relatively broad, subsecund, bluish leaflets with slightly recurved to almost flat margins, the persistent white tomentum, and the strongly glaucous seeds. This species is similar in habit to C. brunnea and C. angulata, but the plants are less robust, dark brown trichomes are lacking, and male cones are smaller, ovoid and orange-brown. C. couttsiana also differs from C. angulata in being more glaucous, and having short, soft cataphylls.

Distribution and habitat: Known from several populations in the southern Gregory Range of Queensland. It occurs in open grassy woodlands on red sandy loams derived from basalt or dolerite, on flat to steeply sloping country.

Conservation status: Although restricted, several of the known populations are large and not under substantial threat. 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants category R. ROTAP category 3R- (or 2R-).


Stems arborescent, to 3(-7) m tall, 14-20 cm diam. at narrowest point.

Leaves blue, dull, 100-130 cm long, strongly keeled (opposing leaflets inserted at 30-90(-150)° on rachis), with 180-270 leaflets, with white tomentum persistent below; rachis usually terminated by a spine. Petiole 17-21 cm long, pubescent, spinescent for 30-100% of length. Basal leaflets not gradually reducing to spines.

Median leaflets simple, weakly discolorous, 170-210 mm long, 4.5-6 mm wide, inserted at 40-80° to rachis, decurrent for 2-5 mm, narrowed to 3-4.5 mm at base (to 60-80% of maximum width), 5-9 mm apart on rachis; median leaflets section flat; margins recurved; apex aristate, spinescent; midrib flat above, raised below.

Cataphylls linear, soft, densely floccose, persistent.

Pollen cones ovoid, orange, 15-20 cm long, 7-9 cm diam.; microsporophyll lamina firm, not dorsiventrally thickened, 30-35 mm long, 12 mm wide, fertile zone 25 mm long, sterile apex 12 mm long, deflexed, apical spine prominent, sharply upturned, 8 mm long.

Megasporophylls 16-26 cm long, grey-tomentose; ovules 4-6, glabrous; lamina lanceolate, 40-60 mm long, 20-30 mm wide, obscurely or regularly dentate, with 22-36 pungent lateral spines 1-3 mm long, 1 mm wide, apical spine distinct from lateral spines, 15-25 mm long.

Seeds flattened-ovoid, 35-46 mm long, 28-38 mm wide; sarcotesta orange-brown, strongly pruinose, 3-4 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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