Information about: Zamia

Index | Zamia

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Zamia. A name applied to a genus of plants belonging to the order Cycadaceae which grown exclusively in warm or tropical regions. The order is characterized by unbranched palm-like or corm-like trunks with a terminal bud and palm-like foliage. In habit they resemble the tree ferns, the pinnate leaves forming a terminal crown and unrolling in vernation like those of a fern. The ovules are naked and borne on a scale or transformed leaf. In the structure of the stem they resemble the conifers, the woody bundles being arranged in concentric circles loosely connected by cellular tissue. The central cylinder of the trunk contains much starch from which a kind of sago or arrowroot is made. The cycads, therefore, combine characteristics of three natural orders of plants, the Conifers, Palms, and Ferns. They appeared in great numbers in the Mesozoic era, forming prominent features of the Triassic and Jurassic forests. The cycads best known to Americans are Cycas revoluta or the Japanese sago palm of the conservatories, and Zamia integrifolia or the coontie of Florida. The latter has a root-like or rhizome-like subterranean stem terminated by a bud and a crown of pinnate leaves. From the starchy rhizome a kind of flour known as "Florida arrowroot" is prepared.