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Zamia spp - Various

Common Name Zamia cycads. Pine cone cycad
Family Cycadaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards Zamia integrifolia The fleshy seeds contain a toxic glycoside that causes headaches, vomiting, stomach pains and diarrhoea if ingested[293 ]. The juice from the plant is very poisonous[46 ]. The starch obtained from the stem is poisonous unless thoroughly cooked[331 ].
Habitats A range of habitats, with some growing as understory plants in moist tropical rainforests and others from more open habitats with unreliable rainfall, considerably more sun, and less humidity, but most are best suited to tropical and subtropical regions that are free from frost.
Range Native to Mexico, the West Indies, and Central and South America as far south as Bolivia. The range of one species (Z. integrifolia), extends into the contiguous United States, i.e. Georgia and Florida.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Wet Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Zamia spp Zamia cycads. Pine cone cycad

Zamia spp Zamia cycads. Pine cone cycad


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Zamia spp is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry moist or wet soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


See individual species


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Root  Stem
Edible Uses:

A number of species are edible. For example: Zamia loddigesii - An edible starch can be obtained from the stems[46 ]. This can be ground into a powder and used in making bread etc. It needs to be thoroughly cooked in order to destroy a poisonous principle[331 ]. Zamia integrifolia -The stems and roots are a rich source of starch[46 , 277 , 301 ]. To make flour, the roots are first chopped into pieces. They are then pounded with a mortar and pestle. The pulp is then washed with water and the starch is allowed to settle to the bottom. Then the water is drained and the remaining paste is left to ferment for several days. At the end of the fermentation process, the starch is set in the sun to dry. When dry, the powdery, cornmeal-like flour is baked into bread[277 ]. The plant parts contain central nervous system toxins, which must be removed before consumption[277 ]. There is a poisonous principle in the stems that is destroyed by thorough cooking[331 ]. and Zamia erosa - The large fleshy root is hidden in crevices of the jagged rocks, but is dug out by local people and used in the manufacture of starch[567 ]. This is ground into a powder and used to make bread etc. It needs to be thoroughly cooked in order to destroy a poisonous principle[331 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None Known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Carbon Farming Solutions - Industrial Crop: starch (Crops grown for non-food uses. Industrial crops provide resources in three main categories: materials, chemicals, and energy. Traditional materials include lumber and thatch, paper and cardboard, and textiles) [1-1]. A number of cycads unrelated to commercial crops offer a chance to produce industrial starch without any of the drawbacks of working with existing food crop families. Genera to investigate include: Cycas, Dioon, Encephalartos, Macrozamia, Microcycas, and Zamia [1-1].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Hypothetical Crop  Industrial Crop: Starch  Management: Standard

Climate: warm temperate to tropical. Humidity: arid to humid. A range of deciduous shrubs with aerial or subterranean circular stems, often superficially resembling palms growing in a number of habitats, with some growing as understory plants in moist tropical rainforests and others from more open habitats with unreliable rainfall, considerably more sun, and less humidity, but most are best suited to tropical and subtropical regions that are free from frost. Carbon Farming Solutions - Cultivation: hypothetical. Management: standard (Describes the non-destructive management systems that are used in cultivation) [1-1].

Carbon Farming

  • Hypothetical Crop  These are perennial plants that could potentially be developed for cultivation. Some, such as cycads (for industrial starch), as simply neglected; others, such as buckwheat and soybeans, are annual crops that could potentially be perennialised by crossing and relatives.
  • Industrial Crop: Starch  Materials and chemicals include bioplastics, paper, cardboard, solvents, paints, glues etc. Plants are usually pods, starchy fruits, nuts & seeds, starchy trunks.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Seed - remove the fleshy coating and surface sow on damp sand. Germination is best at around 23 - 29°c[200 ], but can take several months or even years[277 ]. Pot up young seedlings into a rich, moist medium, as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow on at high temperatures without any check to growth until 2 - 3 leaves have been produced at one time, otherwise they may enter dormancy[200 ]. Division[277 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Native to Mexico, the West Indies, and Central and South America as far south as Bolivia. US, Australia

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Macrozamia spp.Burrawang, CycadsPerennial2.0 10-12 SLMFSNDMWe203

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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