Cycas Revoluta - Ancient & Modern

(page 3)

The roots are very fleshy, and often special, upward growing, root nodules appear near to the soil surface. These are home to blue! green algae which produce essential extra nutrients for the cycad and they should never be removed.

Like all species of Cycad, specimens of Cycas revoluta are either male or female. Unless you have a plant propagated from a sucker of an individual of known sex, it is unlikely you will ever discover the gender of your plant. This can only be determined when it produces cones, (cycads do not flower), and this is something only large, established specimens tend to do. Cones emerge from the top of the plant, instead of leaves. In the male this resembles a tall pine cone some 70cm long, the scales that comprise it opening on maturity to shed pollen. The female cone I can only describe as resembling a giant, furry cabbage! lt is comprised of large, ragged, leathery scales, covered in a felt-like material and packed closely together a tan/brown in colour. lt is a stumning sight! Within the cone scales of the female structure lie the large, red! orange seeds. From pollination these take around two months to mature and are then of a similar size to a walnut. Once the seeds are ripe, the cone begins to fall open and gradually disintigrate. In habitat, the seeds are believed to be distributed by birds. Often, a plant that has coned will take a rest from leaf production for a year or so, but having restored its spent energy, a new flush of foliage will emerge through the remnants of the old cone structure.

Cultivation

Not surprisingly, such an ornamental plant has been in cultivation for a very long time, especially in its homeland of Japan. Here many forms are known, including those with variegated foliage . The plant can even be successfully grown as a bonsai. It is the worlds most popular cycad and is produced, probably by the many million, by the nursery trade in many temperate areas.

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