Photo Favio Gonzales
The Cycad Pages
Zamia encephalartoides

Zamia encephalartoides D.W. Stev., "Fl. Colombia 21: 40-42, fig. 5" (2001).
"TYPE: Colombia, Santander, Río Chicamocha, F. González 3581 (Holo COL; iso NY, U)."

Etymology: from Encephalartos, an African genus of cycads, with the Greek termination -oides, resembling, in reference to the robust arborescent habit, resembling more a species of the African genus than most other species of Zamia.

Historical notes: Zamia encephalartoides was first collected and illustrated in color in 1783 as result of an expedition, "Real Expedicit nica del Nuevo Reyno de Granada", led by Jos. Celistino Mutis. Unfortunately no specimens survive but the color plates are extant. There is no doubt but that the seed cone illustrated there is that of Z. encephalartoides. The seeds and seed dissections with embryo and suspensor are also illustrated. This is first known illustration of the latter. The sarcotesta of the seeds was illustrated as white in contrast to the reds for other Zamia spp. ( except Z. pseudoparasitica which has a yellow sarcotesta). This was thought to be in error until the recent recollections of mature seeds which are indeed white. In fact the sarcotesta never really becomes soft and does break down as in other Zamiaceae.

Distinguishing features: The large, arborescent plants, leaves with smooth petioles and the sessile, entire, strongly coriaceous leaflets with revolute margins.

Distribution and habitat: Endemic in Colombia, in the province of Santander. Known from two distinct populations. Plants and seedlings are abundant in both populations.

Conservation status: The main threat appears to be encroaching farming. Not yet listed in 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants.
Photo Favio Gonzales
Photo Favio Gonzales


Stem arborescent, to 2 m tall and 25 cm diam.

Cataphylls cuneate basally and acuminate apically, to 2 cm wide and 5 cm long.

Leaves 10-15, .5-1 m long; petiole smooth, 15-25 cm long; rachis smooth, with 20-40 pairs of leaflets.

Leaflets imbricate, lanceolate, cuneate basally, acute apically, margins entire and strongly revolute, the median ones 20-30 cm long, 1-3 cm wide.

Pollen cones cream to tan, long cylindric, 20-30 cm long, 3-5 cm diam.; peduncle 5-8 cm long.

Seed cones dark green, cylindrical to ovoid- cylindrical, 25-40 cm long, 10-15 cm diam.

Seeds white to cream, 3-4 cm long, 1.5-2 cm diam.

The Cycad Pages

© 1998-2012 Royal Botanic Gardens Sy dney
Written and maintained by Ken Hill 1998-2010
Maintained by Leonie Stanberg and Dennis Stevenson 2010-2012
This site is currently not being maintained