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Species profile—Bowenia serrulata (Byfield fern)


Plantae (plants) → Equisetopsida (land plants) → ZamiaceaeBowenia serrulata (Byfield fern)

Photo of Bowenia serrulata (Byfield fern) - Queensland Herbarium, DES (Licence: CC BY NC)
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Species details

Plantae (plants)
Equisetopsida (land plants)
Scientific name
Bowenia serrulata (W.Bull) Chamb.
Common name
Byfield fern
WildNet taxon ID
Alternate name(s)
butchers fern
Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NCA) status
Conservation significant
Pest status
Bowenia serrulata is a cycad with an underground stem to 25cm in diameter, branched into 5-20 short, slender crowns with 3-35 leaves per crown. Leaves are 1-2m long and up to 1m broad, and each leaf has 6-16 spreading branches(pinnae). There are 7-30 sharply and regularly serrate leaflets (pinnules) on each branch. The leaflets measure 7-15cm long and 1.5-4cm wide.
The pollen cones are stalked, egg-shaped, 4-7cm long and 2.5-3cm in diameter. Seed cones are egg-shaped to globular, not stalked, and 8-12cm in length and 7-10cm in diameter. Seeds are 2.5-3.5cm long and 1.5-2cm wide, with a white fleshy seed coat maturing to a dull purple.
Bowenia serrulata is distinguished from B. spectabilis by the number of crowns. The distributions of the two species do not overlap. (Hill 1998, 2004)
Bowenia serrulata occurs in moist areas of open forest and woodland, notophyll vine forest and rainforest. It has been recorded growing in sandy soils, brown clay soils, on creek banks and on steep, hilly, coastal ranges. (Hill 1998, 2004)
Bowenia species appear to be pollinated by a species of Miltotranes weevil.
The species is reputed to have toxic parts (Everist 1974).
Management documents
Conservation and management of protected plants in trade in Queensland 1995-1998. Department of Environment.
Contributors: Ailsa Holland, Gary Wilson, Mellisa Mayhew 17/06/2009
Everist, S. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. Angus and Robertson Publishers Pty Ltd. Sydney.
Herbrecs (2008). Bowenia serrulata, in BriMapper version 2.12. Queensland Herbarium. Accessed 23/09/2008.
Hill, K.D. in McCarthy, P.M. (Ed) (1998). Flora of Australia 48: 636.
Hill, K. (2004). Bowenia serrulata, in The Cycad Pages online. Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. Accessed 23/09/2008.
Hill, K. & Osborne, R. (2001). Cycads of Australia. Kangaroo Press, Australia.
Jones, D.L. (2002). Cycads of the World, Ancient Plants in Today's Landscape. edn 2. New Holland Publishers, Australia.
Wilson, G.W. (2002). Insect Pollination in the Cycad Genus Bowenia Hook, ex Hook.F. (Stangeriaceae). Biotropica 34(3): 438-441.
Profile author
Ailsa Holland (17/06/2009)

Other resources

Data source

This profile data is sourced from the QLD Wildlife Data API using the Get species by ID function used under CC-By 4.0.

This information is sourced from the WildNet database managed by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated
8 March 2022
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