Photo Aldo Moretti
The Cycad Pages
Zamia spartea

Zamia spartea A. DC., Prodr. 16(2): 539 (1868).
"TYPE: Mexico, Oaxaca, prope Acayucam, Verapa, Chimalapi, 1832, Alaman s.n. (holo G-DC)."

Photo Ken Hill

Etymology: Meaning sparse but not known whether in reference to the narrow leaflets or the few apical teeth on the leaflets.

Historical notes:

Distinguishing features: Narrow, often gray green, leaflets (< 6 mm wide) with revolute margins.

Distribution and habitat: Zamia spartea is known only from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region of Chiapas and perhaps neighboring Oaxaca, Mexico. Zamia spartea grows at from 100m to 500 m in generally well drained soils and under arid conditions.

Conservation: Zamia spartea is very rare and has been collected only a few times in the over 100 years since it was first described. There is no reliable information on the extent of its distribution, number of populations, or its reproductive status. 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Category E,II,E.
Photo Ken Hill
Photo Ken Hill


Stems subterranean and tuberous, often dichotomously branched, wrinkled and devoid of old leaf bases.

Cataphylls from 1-2 cm long, sheathing at first, with a pair of inconspicuous stipules.

Leaves generally few 2-10; petioles with small prickles. Rachis bearing 5-20 pairs of opposite to subopposite leaflets, sometimes with small prickles.

Leaflets linear 10-25 cm long and 0.4-0.6 cm wide, acuminate apically, with 3-5 teeth at the apex.

Pollen cones pedunculate, light gray to brownish, 1-5, cylindrical but gradually tapering towards acute apex, each 6-10 cm long and 1-3 cm in diameter, densely pubescent.

Seed cones grayish to brown, usually solitary but occasionally up to 3, cylindrical to slightly ovoid with a blunt or slightly acute apex, each 6-10 cm long and 4-6 cm in diameter, densely pubescent.

Seeds with a red to orange-red sarcotesta, ovoid, 1-1.5 cm long.

2n = 18.

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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