Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Cycads in a Zimbabwe Garden

Cycads were once one of the major components of the world's vegetation. They were grazed by dinosaurs and are today a modern living dinosaur of the plant world. Little appears to have changed in their make-up over the centuries that they have been in existence. Cycads are of the Encephalartos family. Zimbabwe boasts three cycad species, these being Encephalartos manikensis, E. concinnus and E.chimanimaniensis. The E. chimanimaniensis colony used to lie on the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique. However, those on the Zimbabwean side have now gone like so many indigenous plants in the area.

Cycads are poisonous to humans and livestock. Certain parts of the plant can be processed and then are edible.

Cycads are protected plants in most areas of the world and the same is true for Zimbabwe. Some years ago there was a registration process to register all cycads in private gardens - this seems to have been abandoned.

They are showy plants with on the whole, thick spiky leaves. The seeds grow in the centre of the plant in an orange cone. Very attractive!

Most cycads in gardens are hand pollinated but those in our garden have been left to their own resources and have seeded and propagated well.

Most cycads prefer full or filtered sun and well drained soils. Cycads grow well in Zimbabwe and are a great addition to your garden.

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