Photo Knut Norstog
The Cycad Pages
Zamia amplifolia

Zamia amplifolia hort. Bull ex Mast., "Gard. Chron., ser 2, 10(261): 810" (1878).
"TYPE: Colombia, Dept. Valle del Cauca, N of Rio Calima, 36 km NE of Buenaventura, May 1976, Kiem & Norstog 30 (neo FTG, fide Stevenson & Sabato 1986)."

Etymology: Originally intended to refer to the very large leaflets, "amplifolia" actually refers to the leaves but is not really a misnomer.

Historical notes: Zamia amplifolia has been collected only four times in the past 120 years and then only as vegetative material. As Norstog and Nicholls (1997) has pointed out Z. amplifolia is very similar in leaves to Z. dressleri a species described from Central Panama (Stevenson, 1993). However, other collections show that Z. amplifolia has trunks up to 2.5 meters tall and in contrast Z. dressleri always has a subterranean stem. The paucity of reproductive material of Z. amplifolia leaves this relationship ambiguous but it is interesting to note that other species from the Choco such as Z. obliqua and Z. chigua have disjunct populations in central and southern Panama.

Distinguishing features: Z. amplifolia is the only Zamia with prominently grooved leaflets that also has leaflets with an entire margin.

Distribution and habitat: Endemic to the Choco of Colombia and known from only four collections over the past 125 years, all near the neotype locality.

Conservation status: This species is so rarely collected that it is hard to assess. However, this leads one to think that it is very rare. The existing poulations are threatened by habitat destruction for coffee plantations. 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Category R,II,V.


Stem arborescent, to 2.5 m tall.

Cataphylls triangular basally, lanceolate apically, 2-3 cm long, 1-2 cm wide.

Leaves 3-6, 1-2 m long; petiole 0.5-1 m long, sparsely to densely prickled; rachis with 6-10 pairs of leaflets, occasionally with a few prickles in the lower third.

Leaflets elliptic, grooved between the veins on the adaxial surface, cuneate basally, acuminate apically, margins entire, the median ones 30-50 cm long, 12-15 cm wide.

Pollen cones cream to tan, cylindrical to elongate-cylindrical, 8-12 cm long, 1-2 cm diam.

Seed cones brown, short pedunculate, cylindical to ovoid cylindrical, 20-40 (50) cm long, 8-12 cm diam.

Seeds red, ovoid, 1.5-2.5 cm diam.

2n = 18.

The Cycad Pages

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Written and maintained by Ken Hill 1998-2010
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