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Species profile—Cycas desolata


Plantae (plants) → Equisetopsida (land plants) → CycadaceaeCycas desolata

Photo of Cycas desolata () - Forster, P.,Queensland Herbarium, DES (Licence: CC BY NC)
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Species details

Plantae (plants)
Equisetopsida (land plants)
Scientific name
Cycas desolata P.I.Forst.
WildNet taxon ID
Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NCA) status
Conservation significant
Pest status
Short Notes
Gymnosperm, three sheets plus carpological, status annotated by author
Cycas desolata is a cycad with a trunk growing to 4m tall, occasionally to 8m. The leaves are blue when young, aging to dull green, 75-120cm long. Strongly keeled in cross-section (V-shaped), with 90-136 leaflets the opposing pairs inserted at 30-50 degrees to the rhachis (central leaf stalk). The, petiole (basal leaf stalk) is 10-23cm long and spineless (lacking pinnacanths). The leaflets mid-way along the stalk are 18-21cm long, 3.5-5mm wide, narrowing to 2.5-4mm at the base, spaced 1-5mm apart, and are flat in cross-section or margins slightly recurved. The cataphylls (reduced leaf-like structures enclosing the whole of a developing shoot) are linear, 3-4.5cm long, and sharply pointed.
The male cones are narrowly ovoid (egg-shaped), orange to brown in colour and 24-40cm long by 8-9.5cm in diameter. The scales arranged around the male cone are 2.8-3.8cm long and 5-13mm wide, with a 3-4mm spine at the tip. The female sporophylls (megasporophylls) are 13-24cm long and bear 2-6 ovules. The apical lobe (expanded part at the apex) is ovate, 28-32mm long, 20-25mm wide and obscurely toothed with an apical spine 5-15mm long. The seeds are 35-39mm long and 32-35mm wide.
The species is distinguished from the related C. cairnsiana and C. cupida by the pale-blue new foliage with relatively few leaflets per leaf, the spine-free leaf petioles, the relatively long and spiny cataphylls, and the shorter apical spine on the megasporophyll lobe. (Forster 1995; Hill 1998)
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Cycas desolata occurs on flat terrain and low rocky outcrops in sparse open ironbark (Eucalyptus spp.) woodland, on stony shallow soils. (Hill 1998)
Male cones shed pollen and female sporophylls are receptive in November. Pollination is effected by small beetles in an obligate mutualism.
Contributors: Ailsa Holland, Paul Forster, Mellisa Mayhew 17/06/2009
Forster, P.I. (1995). Cycas desolata (Cycadaceae), a new species from north Queensland. Austrobaileya 4(3): 345.
Herbrecs (2008). Cycas desolata, in BriMapper version 2.12. Queensland Herbarium. Accessed 29/09/2008.
Hill, K. (1996). A taxonomic revision of the genus Cycas (Cycadaceae) in Australia. Telopea 7(1): 1-64.
Hill, K.D. in McCarthy, P.M. (Ed) (1998). Flora of Australia 48: 613.
Jones, D.L. (2002). Cycads of the World, Ancient Plants in Today's Landscape. edn 2. New Holland Publishers, Australia.
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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Last updated
20 May 2024