The Cycad Pages
Cycas szechuanensis

Cycas szechuanensis "C.Y. Cheng, W.C. Cheng & L.K. Fu", "Acta Phytotax. Sin. 13(4): 81, t. 1, figs 7-8" (1975).
"TYPE: China, cultivated in Fuhu temple, Mt Emei, Sichuan, J.H. Zhiong et al. 33221 (holo PE, iso HWA, IBSC, SZG, IBK) [citation is in Chinese]."

Etymology: From Szechuan (Sichuan) province, with the Latin termination -ensis, place of origin, in the mistaken assumption that this species was native to the region from which the cultivated type specimen was colle

Historical notes: Described in 1975 by Chinese botanists Cheng and Fu. This species was rediscovered in the wild only in 1999, in eastern Fujian Province. Before this, it had been presumed extinct, or at one time regarded as conspecific with C. guizhouensis (Chen & Stevenson 1999).

Distinguishing features: C. szechuanensis is allied to C. taiwaniana, differing in the orbicular megasporophyll lamina that lacks a distinct apical spine.

Distribution and habitat: Known only from eastern Fujian Province. This species grows in moist closed forests or woodlands.

Conservation status: This species is listed by the 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants as category Ex. It has since been rediscovered in the wild, although known populations are severely degraded, and the overall reduction in recent years indicates that this species should be regarded as threatened. IUCN (1994) Red List status DD, probably EN.


Stems arborescent or acaulescent, to 0-2 m tall, 15-25 cm diam. at narrowest point; 6-20 leaves in crown.

Leaves deep green, highly glossy, 120-380 cm long, slightly keeled to flat (not keeled) in section (opposing leaflets inserted at 160-180° on rachis), with 90-220 leaflets, with dark brown tomentum shedding as leaf expands; rachis consistently terminated by paired leaflets. Petiole 50-130 cm long (30-40% of total leaf), petiole glabrous, spinescent for 95-100% of length. Basal leaflets not gradually reducing to spines, 90-260 mm long.

Median leaflets simple, strongly discolorous, 230-440 mm long, 14-21 mm wide, inserted at 80° to rachis, decurrent for 5-7 mm, narrowed to 3.5-4 mm at base (to 20-25% of maximum width), 10-24 mm apart on rachis; median leaflets section flat; margins flat; apex acute, not spinescent; midrib raised above, flat below to raised below (slightly).

Cataphylls narrowly triangular, soft, pilose, 50-60 mm long, persistent.

Megasporophylls 16-24 cm long, brown-tomentose; ovules 4-8, glabrous; lamina orbicular, 70-100 mm long, 70-110 mm wide, deeply pectinate, with 28-34 soft lateral spines 30-50 mm long, 2-4 mm wide, apical spine not distinct from lateral spines.

The Cycad Pages

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Written and maintained by Ken Hill 1998-2010
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