Photo Dennis Stevenson
The Cycad Pages
Zamia lecointei

Zamia lecointei Ducke, "Arch. Jard. Bot. Rio de Janeiro 1: 9-10, pls 1-2" (1915).
"TYPE: Brazil, Rio Erepecuru, 2 Oct 1913, Ducke s.n., MG 15027 (holo MG iso G)."

Etymology: The specific epithet honors Paul LeCointe who lived in Obidos, Brazil and accompanied Adolf Ducke when the species was discovered.

Historical notes: Ducke (1915) described Z. lecointei and mentioned another probable new Zamia which he described as Z. cupatiensis in 1922. The type, illustration (Ducke, 1915: t.1), and description of Z. lecointei all show linear-lanceolate leaflets. Ducke's (1915) concept of Z. ulei is presented in t.2 of the same paper; this bears little resemblance to the type or description (Dammer, 1907) of Z. ulei which has ovate-lanceolate to elliptic leaflets. As a result of his misconception, Ducke described Z. cupatiensis in 1922. The description and photograph of Z. cupatiensis (Ducke, 1922, t.2) match the photograph and isotypes of Z. ulei. In the same paper, Ducke (1922) also described Z. obidensis which was intermediate between his Z. lecointei and his Z. cupatiensis. Because Ducke mistakenly thought that Z. ulei had linear-lanceolate leaflets, he (1935) considered Z. lecointei to be a subspecies, Z. ulei subsp. lecointei. This problem was compounded by Schuster (1932). As a result, Schultes (1953) redescribed Z. lecointei as Z. jirijirimensis. However, the type specimens for these two names are identical. Thus, Z. cupatiensis is a synonym of Z. ulei, and Z. jirijirimensis is a synonym of Z. lecointei. Moreover, Z. obidensis is a shade- and juvenile form of Z. lecointei (compare the plant on the left with the one on the right in the above photograph).

Distinguishing features: Zamia lecointei is most similar to Z. muricata. The two taxa share a common distribution pattern but are not sympatric and prefer different habitats. Zamia lecointei grows in open dry areas of sandy to pure sand soils whereas Z. muricata grows as an understory plant in mesic conditions in wet clay soils. Consequently, Z. lecointei has subcoriaceous to coriaceous, linear-lanceolate, subfalcate leaflets that are entire or with only 1-3 indistinct apical teeth. In contrast, Z. muricata has chartaceous to papyraceous, oblong-lanceolate to lanceolate, inequilateral leaflets that are clearly denticulate in the upper half of both margins.

Distribution and habitat: In Amazonas and Bolivar, Venezuela; Para, Brazil north of the Amazon River to central Colombia and Brazil. Generally growing in very sandy well drained soils from 100-300m. Often in the open in the direct sun or as an understory in secondary vegetation. The leaflets become more narrower and quite coriaceous with nearly entire margins in open habitats as opposed to more shaded conditions where the leaflets are wider, thinner, and with well-developed serrations in the upper third.

Conservation status: Zamia lecointei is most common in Bolivar, Venezuela in both pristine and disturbed habitats. Seed set appears high and the populations are not, at this time, threatened by development or destruction. Not listed in the 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants.
Photo Dennis Stevenson
Photo Dennis Stevenson


Stem subterranean and tuberous, 5-8 cm diam.

Cataphylls triangular basally, linear-lanceolate apically, 3-6 cm long, 1-2 cm wide.

Leaves 2-4, erect or slightly curved, oblong, 1-2 m long; petiole terete, to 75 cm long, sparsely armed with stout prickles; rachis terete, usually unarmed, to 1 m long, 30-40 pairs of leaflets.

Leaflets subcoriaceous to coriaceous, linear-lanceolate, subfalcate, long acuminate at apex, margins entire or rarely with 2-3 indistinct teeth near the apex of lower margin, the median ones 30-37 cm long, 1-2 cm wide.

Pollen cones 2-6, cylindrical, cream to light brown, 6-10 cm long, 1-2 cm in diameter; peduncle 10-20 cm long.

Seed cones usually solitary, brown, 10-15 cm long, 3-5 cm in diameter; peduncle 5-8 cm long.

Seeds red, ovoid, 3 cm long, 2 cm in diameter.

2n = 16.

The Cycad Pages

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Written and maintained by Ken Hill 1998-2010
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