March 15, 2009

Cycads

Recently, I found a cardboard palm at Lowe's and thought it was lovely and most probably a cycad. Well, I was right! It is indeed a cycad (1 of roughly 300 known species). Cycads are amazing because they're dinosaur plants and have that awesome Jurassic Park feel. Sago palms are also cycads, and from the number of them here in Central Texas, you would never figure the division is endangered.

Reading up on the cardboard palm, I'm glad I didn't buy one. The seeds/berries are very tasty and very lethal. There are many reports of dogs eating them and dying horribly due to the toxicity of the pulp. No doubt my dogs would get a hold of the seeds before I did. However, not all cycads are deadly. One that has my eye right now is the dioon edule. I have seen its larger relative, the zamia furfuracea, growing along I-35. I can only figure it's alive in zone 8B because of the heat and shelter of growing along such a business interstate. The dioon edule is supposed to be hardy here generally though, and I would love to get a hold of one of these prehistoric creatures.

Once I remove a large cedar from my backyard, I will have the perfect spot for it where it'll receive morning sun and afternoon shade. Then I'll throw some achillea around it because achillea has that fern-like texture and drought tolerance to make it a very cool buddy in a Jurassic plot without resorting to ferns that need more time and attention than what I can deal with. However, I think it might be a little odd ball in the general landscape that I have. Still, I love dinosaurs and would love to have a little dinosaur garden plot. I could throw in the alligator statuary that I've been wanting for a bit now. Maybe this statue... or this except larger.

4 comments:

  1. Well, I hope your cyad materializes in a plant shop near you...soon. You could always leave it a container until the cedar has been removed.

    Thank you for your feedback on my "hints" post. Much appreciated. :)

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  2. Ya, no worries! Sharing information seems to be part of the gardening culture, and I'd hate to see the information privatized. Let me know if you ended up using any of my tips! Gardeners can still be vain, right?

    I'm not sure the cycad will appear. I think I'll contact my favorite nursery and see if they can get a hold of one, or I'll order one online. Thankfully the dioon edule isn't horribly rare - just unusual to find in a local nursery. Maybe there's a cycad society in Central Texas, and I can encourage them to part with a dioon edule baby... Hmmm...

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  3. I wouldn't worry too much about the toxic seeds -- most cycads (including the cardboard palm) have separate male and female plants -- so you would need at least two to get seeds.

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