Sunday 19 May
Cycad (Cycas clivicola)
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Cycad fact file
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Cycads have large, divided leaves and resemble palms and tree ferns superficially. This cycad species (Cycas clivicola) has a tall, narrow trunk with very long, slightly glossy leaves varying in colour with age from grey-green when young to bright green once mature. The large pollen cones vary from yellow through green to brown. There are two subspecies of this cycad that differ in appearance. Cycas clivicola clivicola has a smooth, grey trunk and relatively small pollen cones, whereas Cycas clivicola lutea has a smooth, yellow trunk and larger pollen cones (2).Top
Cycads are dioecious, with separate male and female individuals. Large seeds with a fleshy coating and a hard centre are produced on the leaves. These are dispersed to nearby soil by birds, rodents and fruit bats, where they must germinate quickly to survive. If conditions are not suitable for germination, the seeds cannot lie dormant, and so will perish. Cycads are long-lived, slow-growing, and have a low reproductive rate. Their roots contain cyanobacteria that exist in a symbiotic relationship with the plant, and provide it with further nutrients by converting (fixing) atmospheric nitrogen into a usable form. The roots are also retractable for protection against drought and fire (2).Top
This cycad is found in Malaysia and southern Thailand (4).Top
As indicated by the Latin name of this species, ‘clivicola’, it is a cliff-dweller. It grows in the crevices of limestone outcrops, in full sun (2).Top
In some areas this cycad species is threatened by over-collection, but in general it is widespread and abundant (2).Top
Cycad conservation is important to many sectors. They are an important group in horticulture, as well as being an ancient plant taxon. They contribute to the health and fertility of soil through their relationship with nitrogen fixing bacteria, and they are of interest to the pharmaceutical industry due to unique compounds contained within them (2). There is no targeted conservation action for this species.Top
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For further information on cycads:
The Palm and Cycad Societies of Australia website:
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:
- A group of bacteria that are able to photosynthesise and contain the pigment chlorophyll. They used to be known as ‘blue-green algae’. They are thought to have been the first organisms to produce oxygen; fossil cyanobacteria have been found in 3000 million year old rocks. As they are responsible for the oxygen in the atmosphere they have played an essential role in influencing the course of evolution on this planet.
- Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants.
- The beginning of growth, usually following a period of dormancy and in response to favourable conditions. For example, the sprouting of a seedling from a seed.
- A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
- Symbiotic relationship
- Relationship in which two organisms form a close association, the term is now usually used only for associations that benefit both organisms (a mutualism).
IUCN Red List (April, 2011)
Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney – The Cycad Pages (May, 2005)
CITES (September, 2008)
Palm and Cycad Societies of Australia (May, 2005)
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