Photo Ken Hill
The Cycad Pages
Cycas xipholepis

Cycas xipholepis K.D. Hill, "Telopea 7(1): 32-33, fig. 15" (1996). H—NSW
"TYPE: Australia, Queensland, 10.5 km W of Telegraph Line road on Batavia Downs to Sudley road, K.D. Hill 4712 & L. Stanberg, 11 Jul 1994 (holo NSW; iso BRI, CANB, DNA, K, L, MEL, NY)."[NSW][NSW][NSW]

Etymology: From the Greek xiphos, sword, and lepis, scale, referring to the long, hard and pungent cataphylls.

Illustration: Hill 1996, fig. 15.

Distinguishing features: distinguished by the dark green leaves with relatively long petioles and flat leaflets with the midrib equally prominent above and below, and the long, hard cataphylls with short, close indumentum.

Distribution: locally abundant on flat sites on deep white to yellow sands over laterites or sometimes on low, stony laterite hills, mainly in savanna forests dominated by Eucalyptus tetrodonta. Widespread in central Cape York Peninsula, from south of Coen to Batavia Downs, west to Merapah.

Conservation status: locally abundant and very widespread, in remote country, not considered to be at risk.
Photo Ken Hill
Photo Ken Hill


Stems arborescent, to 6 m tall, 10-15 cm diam. at narrowest point.

Leaves deep green, highly glossy to semiglossy, 70-120 cm long, flat (not keeled) in section (opposing leaflets inserted at 150-180° on rachis), with 120-210 leaflets, tomentum shedding as leaf expands; rachis consistently terminated by a spine 3-18 mm long. Petiole 23-35 cm long (25-35% of total leaf), petiole glabrous, unarmed or spinescent for 5-50% of length. Basal leaflets not gradually reducing to spines, 30-85 mm long.

Median leaflets simple, strongly discolorous, 75-150 mm long, 4.5-7 mm wide, inserted at 70-90° to rachis, decurrent for 1.5-3 mm, narrowed to 3-4 mm at base (to 50-80% of maximum width), 7-9 mm apart on rachis; median leaflets section flat; margins flat; apex aristate, not spinescent; midrib raised above, raised below.

Cataphylls linear, pungent, thinly sericeous or lacking tomentum, 80-120 mm long, persistent.

Megasporophylls 15-27 cm long, grey-tomentose; ovules 2-6, glabrous; lamina lanceolate, 40-65 mm long, 20-30 mm wide, regularly dentate, with 14-34 pungent lateral spines 5-7 mm long, 1 mm wide, apical spine distinct from lateral spines, 17-24 mm long.

Seeds flattened-ovoid, 33 mm long, 28 mm wide; sarcotesta orange-brown, not pruinose, 3 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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