Family: Cycadaceae
Habitat: Asia, Africa and Oceania
Cultivation: they are robust plants that are resistant to low temperatures and do not need special care in cultivation. It is recommended an exposure to half sun and watering every two / three days in the growing season.
Curiosity: The plants of the genus Cycas are considered living fossils because they appeared on Earth in ancient geological ages, before the Cretaceous. Be careful if you have got animals: all parts of the plant (and in particular the seeds) are toxic and can cause serious problems to dogs and cats.

The genus Cycas belongs to the Cycadaceae family and it is very ancient: they were already very widespread, in fact, in the Cretaceous. Because of that it is difficult to circumscribe an area of ​​origin – indicatively, we can say that they were born  in the tropical regions of Asia, Polynesia, Eastern Africa and Australia. They are mainly popular because of their beauty and ease of cultivation; esthetically, they remind the palm trees even though they  are totally different plants. They have got an erect, cylindrical stem, from whose top it comes out a tuft of pinnate leaves made up, in their turn, by numerous long and thin leaflets .

The cycads are dioecious plants: that is, there are “male” plants with only male flowers, and  “female”plants “, that means they have only female flowers. So to know if a plant is male or female we must look to the flower: the male plants will have elongated  inflorescences such microsporofilli, while the female flowers or macrosporofilli have  round shape inflorescences . The vast majority of specimens in the Italian trade are female plants, because the reproduction at the nursery almost occurs by suckers and not by seed.


There are many species of the genus Cycas. The most common is definitely:

  • Cycas revoluta, also called dwarf palm because it is similar to the palm tree. It has beautiful bright green fronds. If it is cultivated in pots it can reach about 1.50 m high, in the ground can be up to 3 m.

These are other species and varieties, which are  cataloged so far:

  • C. aculeata
  • C. aenigma
  • C. angulata
  • C. annaikalensis
  • C. apoa
  • C. arenicola
  • C. armstrongii
  • C. arnhemica
  • C. badensis
  • C. balansae
  • C. basaltica
  • C. beddomei
  • C. bifida
  • C. bougainvilleana
  • C. brachycantha
  • C. brunnea
  • C. cairnsiana
  • C. calcicola
  • C. campestris
  • C. canalis
  • C. candida
  • C. chamaoensis
  • C. changjiangensis
  • C. chevalieri
  • C. circinalis
  • C. clivicola
  • C. collina
  • C. condaoensis
  • C. conferta
  • C. couttsiana
  • C. cupida
  • C. curranii
  • C. debaoensis
  • C. desolata
  • C. diannanensis
  • C. dolichophylla
  • C. edentata
  • C. elephantipes
  • C. elongata
  • C. falcata
  • C. ferruginea
  • C. fugax
  • C. furfuracea
  • C. glauca
  • C. guizhouensis
  • C. hainanensis
  • C. hoabinhensis
  • C. hongheensis
  • C. indica
  • C. inermis
  • C. javana
  • C. lacrimans
  • C. lane-poolei
  • C. lindstromii
  • C. i Chirgwin
  • C. macrocarpa
  • C. media
  • C. megacarpa
  • C. micholitzii
  • C. micronesica
  • C. montana
  • C. multipinnata
  • C. nathorstii
  • C. nitida
  • C. nongnoochiae
  • C. ophiolitica
  • C. orientis
  • C. pachypoda
  • C. panzhihuaensis
  • C. papuana
  • C. pectinata
  • C. petrae
  • C. platyphylla
  • C. pranburiensis
  • C. pruinosa
  • C. revoluta
  • C. riuminiana
  • C. rumphii
  • C. saxatilis
  • C. schumanniana
  • C. scratchleyana
  • C. seemannii
  • C. segmentifida
  • C. semota
  • C. sseminifera
  • C. shanyaensis
  • C. siamensis
  • C. silvestris
  • C. simplicipinna
  • C. sphaerica
  • C. sundaica
  • C. szechuanensis
  • C. taitungensis
  • C. taiwaniana
  • C. tanqingii
  • C. tansachana
  • C. thouarsii
  • C. tropophylla
  • C. tuckeri
  • C. vespertilio
  • C. wadei Merr.
  • C. xipholepis
  • C. yorkiana
  • C. zambalensis
  • C. zeylanica


The cycads do not require particular attention and are very well adapted to the Italian climate. Apart from the alpine and pre-alpine areas, they grow almost everywhere thanks to the resistance at rather low temperatures.

Here are our tips for cultivation:

  • They prefer an exposure to half sun but they also resist in full sun very well, while the full shade should be avoided.
  • With some differences depending on the species, they can also tolerate temperatures of -10 ° C for some days. For the cycads revoluta instead we recommend to never go down below 5 ° C.
  • For watering, you have to be careful that the soil stays humid deep, but without water stagnation. It is therefore advisable to water frequently, even every other day during the summer season and to control the ground well.
  • The growth of cycads is very slow and therefore they do not need to be fertilized often. It is advisable to fertilize every 6-8 weeks during the spring and summer. Choose a complete fertilizer, rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and micro- elements.
  • These plants are not particularly demanding in terms of soils: but they have to be draining, more or less any kind of soil is suitable. Choose one quite rich (such as peat).
  • For potted plants, the repotting can be done once every 3-4 years. Not more, as the plant will not grow more than 1-2 cm in a year.

For the reproduction of the plant it can be used seeds or suckers, but the first method is strongly discouraged because it requires long time: it could be necessary six months just to see the germination of the seeds. A much quicker way is to take the suckers (shoots that grow at the base of the stem or along the trunk) by cutting those at the base and use them as cuttings. It is recommended to heal the wound at the base of the sucker before you replant it: it can take several days, depending on the climate in your area.

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