Cycads are an ancient group of tropical and subtropical plants that have existed since the age of dinosaurs. They dominated the earth then, but are now endangered. There are more than 200 cycad species. Cycads are often mistaken for palms, but are in fact only distantly related. Misleading common names like "sago palm" further the confusion.
Their tropical look and ability to survive in many different environments makes them a popular choice. Some have a shrub-like appearance, while others resemble palm trees. Their stems may be subterranean or thick and trunk-like.
Cycad plants are dioecious, meaning they have separate male and female plants. When mature, the male plants produce pollen-filled cones, while the females produce larger cones that contain seeds.
The popular native Florida zamia or “coontie” is a low-maintenance landscape plant that thrives in sun or shade. In northern parts of Florida, the king sago, bamboo cycad, and dioons are reliable choices. In frost-free areas, your cycad options are almost endless.
- 50 Common Native Plants Important in Florida's Ethnobotanical History
- Cycads in the South Florida Landscape
- Cycas circinalis Queen Sago
- Cycas revoluta Sago Palm
- Presentation: The Amazing Cycads (PDF)