How long have cycads been around?
Origins. The cycad fossil record dates to the early Permian, 280 million years ago (mya). There is controversy over older cycad fossils that date to the late Carboniferous period, 325 to 300 million years ago.
Where do cycads originate from?
Living cycads are found in the tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions of both the north and south hemispheres. While substantial numbers exist on the continents of Africa, Australia and South America they are also prominent in Central America (which has the greatest diversity) and the Caribbean Islands.
When was the cycad discovered?
Harding created Fossil Cycad National Monument in the Black Hills of South Dakota using the authority provided in the 1906 Antiquities Act. Scientists recognized that the fossil locality, discovered in the 1890s, preserved a significant exposure of a Cretaceous (120 million years old) cycadeoid forest.
Often mistaken for palms, cycads are actually cone-bearing plants that flourished during the dinosaur era, and have survived in tropical and subtropical pockets to the present. “They evolved independently of dinosaurs only 12 million years ago.
Cycads: Plants That Are Older Than the Dinosaurs. Cycads are ancient seed-bearing plants that appeared before the age of dinosaurs, during the Permian period, almost 280 million years ago. As great as dinosaurs were, most of them went extinct while others eventually evolved into birds.
Cycads are the oldest living species of seed plants in the world. They date back 340 million years and have survived three mass extinctions. There are 347 species of cycad left today and while many thrive in areas that are free from development, cycads are one of the most threatened families of plant in the world.
There are many Australian native cycads and three endemic genera: Bowenia, Lepidozamia and Macrozamia. Although they are very popular garden plants, cycads are threatened, endangered or extinct in the wild. Cycads thrive in tropical and subtropical areas with moderate to high rainfall.
Because of their rarity and attractiveness as garden elements, cycads have great commercial value, particularly for “bragging rights”.
The Aboriginal People had developed methods of removing the toxins that allowed the cycad seeds to become a rich food source. Different groups had different methods of removing the toxins, but they all achieved the sand end, an edible, sustaining, fruit.
Summary: Cycads been around since before the age of the dinosaurs. Cycads living today have large, heavy seeds that suggests they rely on large fruit-eating animals to disperse their seeds. Yet there is little evidence that they are eaten and dispersed by today's larger-bodied animals, such as elephants.
Cycads are one of the rarest and oldest plants on earth today, and they need our help. In fact, sources have described the rate of extinction of cycads as higher than rhinos and they are more endangered than corals and amphibians.
Pando, the name of a massive clonal colony of quaking aspens in Utah's Fishlake National Forest, is the oldest living plant in the world. Researchers aren't show how old Pando really is, but estimates say the tree colony is over 80,000 years old.
The oldest currently living houseplant of record is located in the conservatory at London's Kew Gardens. The 242-year-old Eastern Cape cycad has been growing in a pot since 1775. Most botanists agree there are no predetermined lifespans of indoor plants.
Cycads produce seeds but not flowers. They evolved along with dinosaurs, which presumably munched them for lunch. So they've earned the title "living fossil."
Any cycad can be cut up into pieces to make a new plant. Each genus of cycad will produce growth from a different part of the plant. Zamia, Bowenia, and Stangeria will produce new plants from any part of the stem or root.
It's low-growing, making it ideal for mass planting, but also great for pot-growing, even inside. Cycads are a great substitute for palms, where you want a good crown without the height of the trunk. In fact they're often mistaken for palms or tree ferns.
Lepidozamia peroffskyana, commonly known as Scaly Zamia or Pineapple Cycad, is in the family Zamiaceae. Lepidozamia peroffskyana is one of the tallest cycads, growing to seven metres, with arching dark green glossy leaves that look like palm fronds.
When the nursery obtains new offsets, they are put into pumice or cycad soil. It literally takes five to ten years to develop what I'd consider a good root system. The first year after potting them up as a new offset (sucker) they'll have about six inches of roots.
Conifers (division Coniferophyta) appeared first toward the end of the Carboniferous Period (about 358.9 million to 298.9 million years ago).
Geological evidence indicates that dinosaurs became extinct at the boundary between the Cretaceous and Paleogene eras, about 66 million years ago, at a time when there was worldwide environmental change resulting from the impact of a large celestial object with the Earth and/or from vast volcanic eruptions.
The other major threat is from poaching—cycads grow really slowly, so rather than waiting for a seed to grow, older mature plants are stolen for gardens. These two threats, combined with their biology, have made cycads highly endangered.
There are 700 living species of gymnosperms placed into four divisions: conifers (such as pines and spruce), cycads (such as the sago palm, Cycas revoluta), ginkgos (the maidenhair tree, Ginkgo biloba), and gnetophytes (such as Mormon tea, Ephedra).
“One of the reasons they get poached so much is they are easy to transport. The thieves would remove all the leaves then dig them out. They don't have a complex root system. They are very hardy.” Both the stolen species are indigenous to South Africa, one of the world centres of cycad diversity, with 38 species.
To begin with, cycads are dioecious, which means plants are either male or female. The male cone is more slender and possesses more and smaller sporophylls (cone scales). Under each are several pollen sacs, which can be seen as the cone matures.
Both under watering and overwatering can cause Cycas palms to develop yellow leaves. When you water too much, you run the risk of root rot which results in a nutrient deficiency. Poor soil drainage in general can cause root issues leading to yellowing. When planting in containers use well-drained soil.
Macrozamia communis is an Australian cycad found on the east coast of New South Wales. The common name for the species is burrawang, a word derived from the Daruk Australian Aboriginal language; this name is also often applied to other species of Macrozamia.
Let's get started. The most expensive cycad in U.A.'s collection, an Encephalartos latifrons, takes about 15 years to seed and is nearly extinct in its native South Africa. Its value: $18,000.
Most Cycads Prefer Full Sun
Unless you live in a far interior desert-type climate, you should assume that the majority of your cycads would prefer full sun. There are very few species that thrive in dark garden locations.
Soil: Cycads will tolerate most garden soils with the addition of compost and organic matter, as long as they are well drained. A soil pH between 6 and 7 is suitable for most cycad species, and this can be easily checked with a pH testing kit. Mulch to retain moisture and to improve the soil.
The seeds of cycad plants are a toxic food used by many Aboriginal groups in northern Australia. There are three traditional methods used to treat these seeds: brief leaching in water; prolonged leaching in water; and aging.
The fire drill, fire saw and fire plough generate the required heat through friction between two pieces of wood. The fire drill and fire saw are the two most common methods used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, while the fire plough and percussion methods are less widely utilised.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples also employ heat transfer by convection when heating liquids over a fire. Prior to colonisation, the Kuku-Yalanji Peoples of the rainforest region of far north Queensland used large bailer (melon) shells or bark troughs for boiling water over a fire.
Most Cycas have narrow, smooth-edged leaflets which have a prominent midrib, which allows one to at least tell a Cycas species from any other cycad. 4 species have divided leaves though a few other cycads have similar divided leaves (a few Macrozamias). Most have flat leaflets though some have very keeled leaflets.
Cycas, a genus of 105 species of palmlike tropical and subtropical ornamental cycads (family Cycadaceae), among them trees 12 metres (40 feet) or more in height.
Although they look like ferns, cycads are a closer relative to conifers. Both bear their seeds in cones and have separate male and female plants. As the cone matures the seeds spill out and foraging marsupials, large birds and even fruit bats will feed on them.
Most species of cycads tend to grow in regions distant from the coast, and have relatively limited areas for seed dispersal. Their viable seeds are not dispersed by ocean currents because they sink in water.
5 of the World's Rarest and Most Endangered Plants