Photo Dennis Stevenson
The Cycad Pages
Zamia tuerckheimii

Zamia tuerckheimii Donn. Sm., "Bot. Gaz. (Crawfordsville) 35(1): 8, pl. 1" (1903).
"TYPE: Guatemala, Dept. Alta Verapaz, Cubilquitz,Jul 1900, von Tuerckheim 7786 (holo US)."

Etymology: Named for Hans von Türckheim plant collector and traveller in Central America who first collected the species.

Historical notes: Although Schuster (1932) lists the species as occurring in Belize based upon a cultivated plant in Van Houtte's garden, there are no documented records of the species from Belize. Also, John Donnell-Smith, in the original description, mentions trunks up to 3 m as conveyed to him in a letter from von Türchheim. However, no trunks of that size have been recorded in herbarium or living collections.

Distinguishing features: Zamia tuerckheimii has iridescent blue-green, oblong-lanceolate leaflets with entire margins and abruptly acuminate apices. In some respects, Zamia tuerckheimii is most similar to Zamia pseudomonticola. The latter has fewer leaves, long acuminate leaflet tips, green non-iridescent leaflets, and never has prickles on the petiole or rachis as compared to the former.

Distribution and habitat: Known only from Guatemala where it grows from 500-1000 m in primary and secondary wet forest. Most commonly found as understory plants on steep slopes or rocky well-drained areas.

Conservation: Zamia tuerckheimii is locally common, produces cones of both sexes, and produces copious seed both in the wild and in cultivation. Seedlings are common in habitat and the species is only threatened by habitat destruction. 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Category R,II,I.
Photo Dennis Stevenson
Photo Dennis Stevenson


Stem arborescent, to 1 m tall, 10-12 cm diam.

Leaves 8-15, 1-2 m long; petiole minutely prickled to smooth, 0.3-0.5 m long; rachis without prickles, to 1.5 m long; 8-15 pairs of leaflets.

Leaflets ovate-lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate, glossy, iridescent blue-green, 4-6 cm wide, 14-18 cm long, margins entire, abruptly acuminate apically.

Pollen cones tan to gray-brown at maturity, cylindrical, 12-15 cm long, 2-4 cm diam.

Seed cones brownish when young and becoming deep iridescent blue-green when mature, cylindrical 12-18 cm long, 4-8 cm diam.

Seeds red to scarlet red, ovoid, 1.2-1.8 cm long.

2n = 16.

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
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