Cardboard Palm – Zamia furfurcea

potted zamia

Zamia furfurcea or is believed by many as a member of a group of plants that survived the Earth since the time of the dinosaurs. 

Although it is commonly called as Cardboard Palm, this unusual palm tree exhibits a growth habit similar to a palm.  It is also known as Cardboard Cycad, the Cardboard Plant, Cardboard sago, Jamaican Sago, and Mexican Cycad
The term zami is Latin for “pine nut” mainly because of the nutty bright-red seeds inside the rusty-brown egg-shaped cones produced by this plant. 

This tightly packed seeds are believed to be very poisonous and have claimed some lives of both animals and humans.

The term furfurcea on the other hand means “mealy” or “scurfy” which is based on the plant’s fleshy subterranean trunk that is scarfed or marked with scars from old leaf bases. 

Most of its trivial or common names carry the term “cardboard” which is derived from its wide oval green leaflets which feel like cardboard when rubbed. 

These leaflets are occasionally toothed in the tips and are seen along with the plant’s thick leathery leaves that form a loose symmetrical rosette or circular crowns that resemble palm fronds.

The spreading look of the leaves of Zamia furfurcea makes it a favorite landscape plant.  It can be used as an accent and specimen plant or it can be in mixed foundation plantings for a lush tropical effect in gardens, patio, and deck. 

Its mounding growth habit makes it a great plant for a container plant indoors and a landscape plant outdoors. 

Since Zamia furfurcea is salt-resistant, many planters use it in beachside plantings.  Its exotic look and instinct for survival makes it one of the few tough houseplants that can survive neglect and harsh conditions.


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