Cycad (Cycas calcicola)

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Cycas calcicola
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Cycad fact file

Cycad description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassCycadopsida
OrderCycadales
FamilyCycadaceae
GenusCycas (1)

Despite being strikingly distinctive and occurring beside the major north-south highway in the Northern Territory, Australia, this cycad was only recognised as recently as 1978 (4). The palm-like shrub (2) is distinguished by its long, flat, dark-green leaves with large numbers of very narrow leaflets, densely covered with short, matted hairs below, and sometimes above (4). This slender-trunked form of Cycas is also characterised by pronounced silver or bluish-grey colouration through young upright leaves, which can most frequently be seen in the new flush of growth after a fire (2) (5). The slender, greyish male pollen cone is ovoid in shape, 17 to 26 centimetres long and 5 to 6 centimetres wide (2). The megasporophylls, a leaf-like structure that holds the female gamete, are 12 to 18 centimetres long and either grey or brown (4).

Size
Height: c. 3 m (2)
Trunk diameter: 17-30 cm (2)
Average leaf length: 80 – 90 cm (2)
Average leaf width: 15 - 20 cm (2)
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Cycad biology

Cycads are dioecious plants, meaning that there are separate male and female plants, and the female produces seeds while the male produces cones with pollen in them. Plants of this taxon have generally been considered to be wind pollinated, but several recent studies suggest that insect pollination is more likely. The seeds produced are typically large with a hard, stony layer (sclerotesta) beneath a fleshy outer coat (sarcotesta), attracting animals such as birds, rodents, small marsupials and fruit-eating bats, which serve as dispersal agents. In most cases, the fleshy coat is eaten off the seed rather than the entire seed being consumed. Cycads are long-lived and slow-growing, with slow recruitment and population turnover (6).

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Cycad range

Located in a few disjunct areas across the Northern Territory of Australia (5).

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Cycad habitat

Found amongst sparse woodland on sandstone or limestone, where the water table is near the surface (5).

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Cycad status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) by the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern

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Cycad threats

This species is widespread and not considered to be at risk (4).

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Cycad conservation

This cycad is listed on Appendix II of CITES, which regulates the plant’s import and export across international borders (3). Otherwise, no conservation measures are currently in place for this species.

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Find out more

For more information on Cycas calcicola see:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
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Glossary

Gametes
Reproductive cells, which will unite in a pair to eventually produce offspring.
Leaflets
The individual ‘leaf-like’ parts of a compound leaf
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2008)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Palm and Cycad Societies of Australia (PACSOA) (February, 2006)
    http://www.pacsoa.org.au/cycads/Cycas/calcicola.html
  3. CITES (November, 2005)
    http://www.cites.org
  4. PlantNet: Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney Australia - Cycas calcicola (February, 2006)
    http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/cycadpg?taxname=Cycas+calcicola
  5. Gymnosperm database (February, 2006)
    http://www.conifers.org/cy/cy/calcicola.htm
  6. PlantNet: Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney Australia - Introduction to Cycads (February, 2006)
    http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/PlantNet/cycad/cycintro.html
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Image credit

Cycas calcicola  
Cycas calcicola

© Jean-Paul Ferrero / Auscape International

Auscape International
PO Box 1024,
Bowral
NSW
25a76
Australia
Tel: (+61) 2 4885 2245
Fax: (+61) 2 4885 2715
sales@auscape.com.au
http://www.auscape.com.au

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