Although it looks like a palm tree, it is in fact a gymnosperm and is therefore related to conifers and the ginkgo. It has a simple or branched trunk that grows very slowly, crowned by a rosette with dense narrow leaflets that are so dark and shiny they look as though they are made of plastic. The male plants develop a large and vertical cone in the middle of the feather-like rosette, while the female plants, like the one shown in the diagram, have flowers below these.
It is one of the few remaining species of a family that originated in the Triassic age and which was widespread 200 million years ago. Morphologically, it represents an intermediate stage in the evolution of ferns on flowering plants. There are now only 9 genera and 100 species remaining from the cycadaceae family.
- Natural Habit