Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Foods for the Dinosaurs!

When the word 'dinosaur' is mentioned, it elicits thoughts about history, age, huge size, curiosity. When we say 'foods of the dinosaurs', we think of longevity, permanence, awe! And all of these terms can be used for cycads or cycas, the plants as old as the dinosaurs, and in fact one of their foods during their time. I just learned these information only recently, even if we have two genus of Cycas at home: Cycas revoluta and Cycas edentata. We have 2 mature specimens of the latter. It was actually planted by my sister when she was still a kid. Now it has grown big that my mother always cut some of the growing points, to prevent some branches from growing towards the house.

I seldom see cycas plants near our area. It is dioecious, meaning male and female structures are in separate plants. It turned out that ours is female, and it produced many fruits for the last 4 years. Pollens in the air pollinated them, however i haven't located the male plant. I just got curious with it after finding that it is vulnerable in our country. I now told my mother and the household about it. To prevent her from trying to kill it, I jokingly say that it must be allowed to grow so when the next generation of dinosaurs come, they already have food waiting. It elicited a good laugh from everybody. There are already many seedlings underneath it, which i gave to a blogging friend, Tristan,  who collects endemic species. I also gave 2 seedlings to Plantchaser, a collector of unusual and exotic plants.


           Top left: our 2nd Cycas edentata plant; Top right: young branches of our old plant

above: our old plant with Drynaria ferns growing on trunk, you can see the cut tips, courtesy of my mother


 Top left: a young branch; Top right: megasporophylls with the fruiting bodies
Top and Bottom: immature C. edentata fruits. This year is not a prolific year for its fruiting.

Above is a 3 yr old seedling, showing the tap root, secondary roots and the specialized 'coralloid roots', which contain the Cyanobacteria for nitrogen fixation. It is almost similar to legumes, which have nodules in the roots also for nitrogen fixation. No wonder the genus has survived for centuries through circumstances unknown to our generation yet.

An old specimen in front of the University of Santo Tomas campus, the oldest university in the country. If only ours is planted in an open space, we can allow it to branch and grow like this one.


  1. How interesting, Andrea. I love that last picture of the older specimen. BUT--the one that fascinated me was the one showing the tap root, secondary roots and the specialized 'coralloid roots'... That one is so interesting... Thanks for sharing this with us.

  2. Great post Andrea. I shudder to think of dinosaurs running around, but it is pretty amazing that there are plants around from this time. This plant really does look prehistoric. I wonder how old is the one in the last image? It looks really ancient.

  3. These must be so ancient that they are incompatible with my blog. This post is not reflected in my blog list. Strange! Save them for the dinosaurs.

  4. Gorgeous specimens Andrea! I wish there was a truly hardy cycad that exists that we can grow here permanently outside. Although saying that there are some that has got some potential like Macrozamia communis which defoliates on hard winters but still flushes back in the summer. Cycas revoluta can be planted out here too, but will need covering up when it gets really cold in the winter.

  5. Wow, those are really mature cycads you have in your garden. I too am fond of cycads. So when are you going to give me some of the seedlings? hehehe

    I also wrote another type of cycad (Zamia furfuracea) in my blog titled "A living fossil". Maybe you could add this to your collection of dinosaur plants.

  6. What an interesting post with great shots! I don't think we can grow these in my region! Much too cold for them!
    Thanks for sharing. And thanks for visiting my place and taking the time to comment;o)

    Have a nice and happy day****

  7. wow that is an amazing plant - I have never seen one like it!

  8. Can one EAT the water hyacinth? It is a frightening invasive alien in South Africa too. I have seen huge trucks clearing the growth from our rivers. And all because someone once said - oh what pretty flowers!

    Your cycad grows gracefully, our species grow with one trunk.

  9. Indeed... Food for the dino. OMG! These plants sure are massive. I have yet to see a Cycas as big as this one here. Very interesting post Andrea.

  10. C. edentata is an interesting plant. I am trying to root some pups from a C. revoluta. One put out a green frond, which was encouraging. The others changed their minds. It make take a whole growing season to get roots. They will stay inside this winter.

  11. You failed to mention that your specimen was multi-headed. Thanks for sharing the seedlings with me and Tristan. I didn't know about the one in UST but I have seen similar elsewhere.

  12. Your photograph entitled "megasporophylls with the fruiting bodies" looks like creatures of the woods. I can make out eyes, nose and mouth. Interesting picture!

  13. Cycads have so many interesting parts. Yours are beautiful as is the older one from the University.

  14. I hope we are not around when the dinosaurs come for their food one day. I'm sure they'll surely appreciate the food though:) It is quite a specimen and very neat.

  15. Actually, the word dinosaur makes me think about small curious boys :).

    Those cycads are really special plants. We have a few in a local conservatory, and I have always been amazed at their long history. I absolutely loved the last picture of the huge plant - that's something I can never see here...

  16. Betsy - my first time seeing that coralloid root i just shared with all of you. It's a bit amazing really, especially the knowledge that it has bacteria symbiotically helping it get food.

    GWGT - I also wonder how old is that cycas but the school is founded in 19th century!

    One - I am sure you laughed when i said i am saving the plants for the come back of the dinosaurs! How is your dashboard now?

    Mark and Gaz - i have Cycas revoluta too, but is grows very slowly. Maybe you should try this species to test your winters.

    SR - If you will go to my place i can give you some seedlings too, just like Tristan, i even guided him to Mt Gulugod Baboy even if its raining. If you will barter with me with the Zamia (i forgot your post on it) then i can give you more plants, blood lily, amaryllis, etc, etc. haha.

    Mildred - thanks for the appreciation and visit, i hope you drop by again.

    Africanaussie - I am sure you have this also in Oz as your continent is the middle of the old continent which disintegrated (Goldswana?), which carried the cycads. haha.

  17. Diana - i don't think water hyacinth can be eaten, but some enterpricing people here made them into bags, and some creativity with it made them beautiful. It has strong fibers.

    Your species of cycads might be different so only one trunk. We also have those here.

    Ever Green Tree - you are the first one i thought should see this post, glad you saw it.

    Nell Jean - i forgot where you are, but yes C revoluta is a very slow grower. Ours has been there with 2 fronds and cant somewhat conquer the weeds. This C edentata grows faster and pups grow easier too.

    Bom - you're welcome. Where did you see also an old cycas, i would like to see it too.

    Linda - haha, i went back to see what you figured out with those round fruiting bodies. You are very artistic, that's why, and maybe too much playing with your new portrait software that you see a figure with my photo.

    Meems - i also thought those parts are interesting so i posted them individually. thanks for visiting.

    Tina - I am your opposite, as i want to be still here when the dinosaurs arrive, so i can have a big big pet!

    Masha - yes 'dinosaurs' mean small boys toys too. A so you have it too in the conservatory, it will be this big soon! I hope before the dinosaurs arrive, LOL.

  18. Great post, Andrea! It is a lovely plant, the love shot looks like a tree. Wonderful photos.

  19. Last one is so amazing, I can 't saw this much growth in any trees. Your photograph looks like creatures of the woods.

  20. Followed from your comment you left on my blog. What a wonderful blog you have. Our area is semi-tropical and you would love seeing it. Hope you get here. If you ever do, let me know. Now back to enjoy your blog.

  21. I'm totally fascinated by Cycads, and never have I seen specimens as mature as the one you pictured.
    I once saw a fruit that had split and fallen to the ground - the display was so bright and colorful, it made a fabulous photograph.
    Great post!
    aka Bay Area Tendrils

  22. Andrea, that sounds like a good trade (for me...LOL), my one young Zamia for your "more plants, blood lily, amaryllis, etc, etc."

    I wonder what plants the "etc., etc." will be...LOL

  23. Eileeninmd - thanks for dropping by Eileen. I hope you come again.

    Psychologist cape town - cycads are not really trees, they are more like palms, but also not palms. Since they are old they have a different classification. Thanks for commenting.

    Jude - thanks for returning my visit, how i wish to visit your area too. The invitation is very much appreciated.

    Alice - since you travel the globe to write about gardens,if you happen to visit here, i am much willing to guide you around, and to visit this specimen. thanks for your comment.

    SR - haha, that word is the catch, 'etc.'. You might succumb to it. More plants depends on what are in the property, i am sure you will not be able to get the old molave tree, the dita trees, santol, and other fruit trees. But i have lots of seedlings at home, which we just take out as weeds.

  24. how interesting. i especially like the shot of megasporophylls with the fruiting bodies. :)


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