|The Cycad Pages
- Cycas furfuracea W. Fitzg., J. & Proc. Roy. Soc. Western Australia 3: 108 (1918).
- "TYPE: Australia, Western Australia, summit of Mount Herbert, King Leopold Ranges, May 1905, W.V. Fitzgerald 793 (lecto (fide Hill 1996) NSW; isolecto PERTH)."[NSW]
From the Latin furfuraceus, scurfy, in reference to the
persistent trichomes on the leaves.
Hill 1996, fig. 26.
Described in 1918 by surveyor William Vincent Fitzgerald (--) on the basis
of collections and observations he made during an expedition to the
Kimberley region in 1905.
No holotype was designated, but the distribution
was cited as "Summits of Mts. Herbert, Broome, and Bold Bluff
(W.V.F.)", and this is apparently the only extant Fitzgerald
collection of this species. The specimens in both NSW and PERTH
include a leaf portion, together with both male and female sporophylls,
and so must have been gathered from more than one plant. The leaf
section in NSW has been designated the lectotype (Hill 1996). The leaf sections
in NSW and PERTH can be matched at the break, and so are from
the same leaf. The NSW portion, however, includes part of the
petiole and the lower leaflets, which are specifically mentioned
in the protologue.
This distinctive species has generally been accepted by most authors,
although Schuster (1932) had reduced it to a variety of C. media.
Distinguished by the strongly keeled leaves with angled, broad,
often white-tomentose, glaucous leaflets with slightly recurved margins.
The leaves are consistently terminated by paired leaflets, and leaflets
gradually reduce in size to grade into spines on a short petiole
in both C. furfuracea and C. basaltica. Microsporangiate
cones are also relatively long and narrow in this species, and
somewhat broader in C. basaltica. Sporadic individuals
also lack the glaucous leaf wax, leading to the occasional occurrence
of green plants in stands of otherwise blue plants (similar occurrences
are present in C. pruinosa, which see). Leaves of the western
occurrences (on Kimbolton) tend to lose their tomentum as they
mature, whereas the tomentum may persist for several years on
leaves of the plants in the King Leopold Range. The western occurrences
also tend to have broader leaflets than those occurring in the King
Leopold Ranges. The ranges of both characters in the two populations
overlap substantially, and no clear infraspecific division can
Distribution and habitat:
A sporadic species in the Kimberley region of Western Australia,
known mainly from elevated parts of the King Leopold Range, with
another occurrence on Kimbolton and on islands to the north of
there, such as Heywood Island. Usually on skeletal sandy soils
on hard siliceous metasandstone, on steep slopes. The occurrences
at Kimbolton are unusual in being both on similar substrates to
the above, and also on red clay on rocky basalt outcrops.
Stems arborescent, to 2(-4) m tall, 18-22 cm diam. at narrowest point.
Leaves blue, dull, 80-150 cm long, strongly keeled (opposing leaflets inserted at 40-70° on rachis), with 100-220 leaflets, with white tomentum persistent below; rachis consistently terminated by paired leaflets. Petiole 15-26 cm long, pubescent, spinescent for 5-50% of length (often only 2-3 distal spines). Basal leaflets gradually reducing to spines, 1 mm long.
Median leaflets simple, weakly discolorous, 70-200 mm long, 6.5-7.5 mm wide, inserted at 40-50° to rachis, decurrent for 3-7 mm, narrowed to 4.5-6 mm at base (to 75-85% of maximum width), 9-13 mm apart on rachis; median leaflets section flat to slightly keeled; margins slightly recurved; apex acute, spinescent; midrib raised above, raised below (prominent).
Cataphylls linear, soft, pilose, persistent.
Pollen cones narrowly ovoid to fusiform, orange to brown, 30-40 cm long, 7-9 cm diam.; microsporophyll lamina firm, not dorsiventrally thickened, 30-40 mm long, 16-20 mm wide, fertile zone 20-25 mm long, sterile apex 12-18 mm long, deflexed, apical spine prominent, sharply upturned, 6-12 mm long.
Megasporophylls 26-36 cm long, white-tomentose to grey-tomentose or brown-tomentose; ovules 4-8, glabrous; lamina lanceolate, 70-95 mm long, 10-22 mm wide, regularly dentate, with 12-20 soft lateral spines 2-5 mm long, 2-3 mm wide, apical spine distinct from lateral spines, 25-65 mm long.
Seeds flattened-ovoid, 32-36 mm long, 27-32 mm wide; sarcotesta orange-brown, strongly pruinose, 2-3 mm thick; fibrous layer absent; sclerotesta smooth. Spongy endocarp absent.