Dioon edule or Chestnut Dioon is a native of Mexico and Central America where they grow in tropical deciduous oak forests under dry, harsh conditions. They have short, stocky trunks up to 6 feet (1.9 m) in height. The arching leaves are 3-6 feet (1-1.9 m) long, dark green with entire pinnae in adult plants. Leaves are very stiff and sharp pointed. The seeds of the plant are edible. Plants are very slow growing and are hardy in the landscape in USDA zones 8-11.
Blooming Time: Chestnut Dioon are primitive gymnosperms, so strictly speaking they do not "bloom" with flowers, but with either female or male cones. All cycads are monoecious and, interestingly, have sex chromosomes. About 1 month ago our plant started producing its cone.
Culture: Chestnut Dioon needs partial shade with a rich, well-drained soil. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 1 part peat moss to 2 parts loam to 2 parts coarse sand. To this mix, we add 1 cup of hydrated lime to each 0.01 cu. yards of soil mix. The plants are watered and allowed to dry slightly before watering again. They are fertilized monthly with a balanced fertilizer diluted to 1/2 the strength recommended on the label. During the winter months, water is somewhat restricted to about once a week or so and fertilizer is withheld. Since they are very slow growing, repotting should be done only about every 3 years.
Propagation: Dioon edule or Chestnut Dioon is propagated from offsets at the base of the trunk during the winter months or from seed when available.
Dioon edule was featured as Plant of the Week October 22-28, 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.