Zamia furfuracea, or "Cardboard Palm," is not really a palm at all, but a member of an ancient gymnosperm group known as the cycads, which date back into the Mesozoic. As with all cycads, the plants of this species are perennial and dioecious, with leaves sometimes overlapping seasons. This cycad is native to Central Mexico. Leaves of mature plants reach 3-4 feet (0.9-1.2 m) in length, with strap-like leaflets up to 5 inches (12.7 cm) long and 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide. Leaves have a slightly fuzzy feel when rubbed and feel like cardboard. Clumps can reach up to 6 feet (1.8 m) in diameter. The rosette of foliage arises from a thick trunk that acts as water storage for times of drought. I would like to thank Bud at Duck Lake Trees and Shrubs for giving me insight on the correct epitaph of this Zamia. They are easy plants to grow in containers and in the landscape. Plants are hardy in USDA zones 9-11.
Blooming Time: Plants are dioecious, having female and male cones on separate plants. Our plant has yet to produce a cone of any type.
Culture: Zamia furfuracea needs full sun to partial shade, with a well drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of equal parts of loam and sand with small gravel added to ensure good drainage. The plants are watered and allowed to dry before watering again. Since our plant is grown as a bonsai, we only fertilize once a growing season with a balanced fertilizer. If grown as a bonsai, the roots should be pruned every couple of years. We do this in the winter months. Also during this period, we reduce the water and fertilizer is withheld until new growth starts in the spring. With careful watering and pruning, these plants make outstanding specimen plants.
Propagation: Zamia furfuracea is propagated from seed.
Zamia furfuracea was featured as Plant of the Week March 26-April 1, 2010.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.