Photo Anders lindstrom
The Cycad Pages
Zamia cunaria

Zamia cunaria Dressler & D.W. Stev., Brittonia 45(1): 5-6 (1993).
"TYPE: Panama, Cuna Yale, Comarca de San Blas, 18 Jan 1989, Stevenson et al. 1153 (holo NY iso F, FTG, K, MO, NY, PMA, U)."[NY][NY]

Etymology: Named in honor of the Cuna Indians who use the seeds to make necklaces. In Cuna, the plant is known as "obset" and the ovulate strobilus as "obset e sana".

Historical notes:

Distinguishing features: The generally obvious long oblanceolate leaflets and wine-red seed cones.

Distribution and habitat: Endemic to Cuna Yala (Comarca de San Blas), Panama. Zamia cunaria is usually found in clay soils on slopes and ridge tops from 400-800 m in secondary vegetation.

Conservation status: Only three small populations are known. Seed set appears high and the populations are not, at this time, threatened by development or destruction. 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Category V,II,R.
Photo Dennis Stevenson
Photo Dennis Stevenson


Stem subterranean, subglobose, to 10 cm diam.

Cataphylls of two forms either ovate and 3-4 cm long and 4-5 cm wide, or acicular and 7-10 cm long and 2-3 cm wide.

Leaves 1(-3), 0.5-1.5 m long; petiole 15-50 cm long, sparsely to densely prickled; rachis with 3-12 pairs of leaflets.

Leaflets oblong or oblanceolate, cuneate basally, acuminate apically, margins serrate in upper third, the larger median ones 20-40 cm long, 5-8 cm wide.

Pollen conescream to tan, cylindrical to ovoid-cylindrical, 4-6 cm long, 1-1.5 cm diam.; peduncle 2-4 cm long; microsporophylls with sterile tip composed of six steeply inclined facets surrounding a centrally depressed terminal facet, sporangia present on both the adaxial and abaxial surfaces of the fertile region.

Seed cones wine red to dark red-brown, cylindrical to ovoid-cylindrical, 15-20 cm long, 5-7 cm diam.

Seeds pink to light red, 1.5-2 cm long, 0.5-0.8 cm diam.

2n = 23, 24.

The Cycad Pages

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Written and maintained by Ken Hill 1998-2010
Maintained by Leonie Stanberg and Dennis Stevenson 2010-2012
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