Cycads in Australia: Your Quick Guide to Cycadophyta.

As I said on Wednesday, Australia isn’t so hot on real Christmas trees. But we have plenty of these things and I find them quite fascinating.

CycadWhat are they?

They are called cycads, and you won’t find them growing in Germany, France, Denmark, Belgium or Great Britain where most of the world’s Christmas trees are produced. Because cycads grow in tropical and subtropical climates, like here in Australia.

These are my cycads; they are in my front garden.

Cycad 1
Cycad 2My cycads used to be in my back garden, but I was in danger of damaging them whilst doing some heavy landscaping. So I had them moved to the front garden by a man with a Bobcat.

I was worried they might not survive, but they did. I’m only guessing, but I would think these cycads are at least 20 years old. But some cycads can live for more than 1000 years.

It gets more exciting than that, you’ll see!

First, they have an unusual wooden looking trunk that grows taller as they get older. My biggest cycad is still, relatively speaking, a baby, but its trunk is about three quarters of metre high.

Cycad trunkCycads are either male or female.

The smaller of my two cycads is a female. The bigger cycad is male. Of course, the untrained eye would never notice the difference, but as I am experienced in all things cycad, I can tell.

Have another look at the cycad pictures above, and see if you can spot the difference?

I’ll help you out a bit….

Male cycad coneYes, that’s right; the male cycad has a cone.

If I didn’t have other things to do, I could have watched my male cycads cone grow, like this…..

I think the most amazing fact about cycads is that they predate flowering plants, so that means they were around during the dinosaur period.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a second opinion….

There are around 300 different species of cycads. I can’t tell you for sure if all of the pictures of plants in this following video really are cycads or not.

But I certainly know Jimi Hendrix when I hear it….

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