The Painted Cycad

Wow!  I just realized that it has been a month and a day since I last posted.  

Explanations first.  

I decided a while back to limit my posts to weekends which is when it is most convenient for me to take pictures and research.  The past weekends, however, have not been conducive to blogging which is why there have been no posts from my end.  It also explains why I haven't been commenting on your blogs.  The number of Google Reader items to read to play catch up = Scary!  I already started last night but I've barely made a dent in the numbers.  

There were two long weekends to enjoy last month, one of which was spent out of town communing with nature at our favorite go-to mountain home.  Here is a picture of Pals (from the "Plant Clinic" post) and I heading down to the stream for a swim.  You can almost make out the stream above my head.

The other long weekend was spent at the local tennis club.  First, I participated in a tennis tournament.  It was  sponsored by my father-in-law.  How could I refuse?  Second, I also participated in our Tennis Club's monthly tree planting event.  I've donated a couple of plants to this event where the month's birthday celebrant/s add to the greenery around the tennis court.  Below standing are Gus, myself, Tagaytay Living blogger Eric Villegas.  Birthday celebrant Claro and Club president Gerry planting a NOID palm which I had grown from seed.

Last weekend was dedicated to the children, taking them to dance and voice lessons, watching the Phantom of the Opera and making sure they prepared for their end term exams.  

I've also been extra busy at work, proving I'm deserving of my very recent promotion.  Yay, me!  How is that for self aggrandizement?  LOL!

Now back to business.  

Zamia variegata (accepted name) is also known as Zamia picta (synonym), with the Latin "picta" meaning decorated or embellished.

Its known habitat are the Central American (Mexico, Belize and Guatemala) low altitude rainforests.

The plant likes warmth, shade and lots of water.  It is a sloooooowww grower. Although it has a subterranean trunk it has been reported to grow to up to 2 meters tall.

First described by Dyer Biologia Centrali-Americani. Botany Volume 3. 1884. From Mexico and Guatemala.  "It is remarkable that previous writers should have felt any hesitation in claiming for this splendid plant the specific rank which is undoubtedly due to it.  Its affinities with Zamia muricata are really comparatively remote. -- William Botting Hemsley .Botany. Volume III . London : Published for the editors by R. H. Porter and Dulau: 1882-1886. 

It is said to be the only true variegated cycad. But take note the variegation is not a mutation. It is its normal state.

This is my young specimen but the leaves are already way way taller than me.


The spines on the rhachis are dangerous. It once pierced my thumb when I cut a dying leaf. You don't want to mess with this plant. Ouch!

Even the new leaf (on the right) has spines along its rachis.

This is a photo of a young leaf flushing. Look at all those hairs. Like most other cycads, the hairs disappear once the leaf matures. 

This is what I call nature's work of art. The green and yellow variegation of the leaflets looks almost like an abstract painting.

The picture below is a close up of a leaflet held against the sun.  I didn't notice the black spots before and now I am wondering if they are a sign of disease.  Well, disease or not, they seem to make the leaflet look more like an abstract painting.

This painted cycad, like paintings, becomes more valuable as it gets older. I still have to wait for at least ten more years for mine to become valuable though.



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