Cycad

Cycads are one of the most ancient plant lineages, and the many magnificent specimens in Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne evoke a prehistoric epoch with their form and structure. Once the dominant taxa across the entire planet, cycads are now endangered due to habitat loss, climate change and poaching. This collection is an important conservation effort, and due to the suitability of cycads to Melbourne’s future climate, will only grow with time.

This Collection is important as it:

  • Conserves an ex situ living collection of an exceptional plant family.
  • Educates visitors about the unique features of this family and the ethnobotanical history in Australia and around the world.
  • Provides healthy specimens for research and study.

Key Plants

Pineapple Cycad

Lepidozamia peroffskyana

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Sago Palm

Cycas revoluta

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Burrawang

Macrozamia communis

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Encephalartos altensteinii

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Ceratozamia mexicana

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Pineapple Cycad

<em>Lepidozamia peroffskyana</em>

Endemic to the wet, sclerophyll forests of NE NSW and SE QLD. It is one of the largest cycads, capable of reaching an impressive 7m in height, and with its thick crown of dark green fronds could be mistaken for a palm.

Notes from the Curator 

Cycads are a fascinating and ancient plant lineage, first appearing in the Permian Period around 280 million years ago and were so prolific that the Jurassic Period is also known as the “Age of Cycads”. Today they are far fewer in number, and we are fortunate to have a number of species and genera growing native in Australia. Their massive ‘cones’ and seeds are indicative of the now-extinct megafauna which grazed upon them, and the First Nations people of Australia and around the world have a long history of using them for food and crafting materials. Cycads as a whole are one of the most critically endangered groups of plants in the world today, and ex situ collections like our own are an important conservation initiative.