Zamia furfuracea (Cardboard Palm)

Like other cycads, Cardboard Palms are very slow growing conifers only growing in tropical regions. These have unfortunately become endangered, as these plants thrived in the warm environments present around the world from millions of years ago.

Zamia furfuracea (Cardboard Palm)
Deciduous: no
Hardiness Zones: 9b-11
Height: to 1.5 meters (5 feet) tall
Diameter: to 2.3 meters (8 feet) wide, base to 20 centimeters (8 inches) wide
Growth Rate: slow
Age: perennial
Root System: connected to large, spherical, spiky base, thick and fibrous
Family: Zamiaceae
Subspecies: none
Tolerates: ocean (salt) spray, drought once established
Problems (major): easily rots, Florida red scale (fatal if unnoticed), considered Endangered by IUCN
Problems (minor): none
Poisonous: yes
Soil requirements: prefers light/sandy or medium/loamy, tolerates acidic and alkaline soils
Air requirements: tolerant of sat spray
Watering requirement: intiially moderate, low when mature
Sun requirement: partial shade

Leaves: spirally arranged, opposite, obovate, medium green, thick (cardboard-like), spiked petioles, to 1.5 meters (5 feet) long, leaflets to 20 centimeters (8 inches) long by 3 centimeters (1 inch) wide
Cones (male): cylindrical, tan, to 15 centimeters (6 inches) long, to 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) wide, peduncle to 6 centimeter (2 inches) long
Cones (female): cylindrical or ovoid, tan or brown, to 25 centimeters (10 inches) long and 75 centimeters (30 inches) wide, peduncle to 20 centimeters (8 inches) long, pollinated by beetles and weevils
Seeds: red, hard, to 15 centimeters (6 inches) long
Seeds require stratification: no
Trunk: spherical, spiky, orange-brown, above-ground
Form: shrub
Monoecious/Dioecious: monoecious
Notable characteristics:
The leaflets are particularly thick, creating an almost cardboard feeling when touched. The petioles have numerous spines on them, sometimes surprising people picking these up.

Cardboard Palms are occasionally used as shrubs in tropical regions.

Sources used:

Male form


Male strobili (cones)


Foliage (oppositely arranged)


Foliage and form


Spiky base

Developing female cone

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.


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