Family: Zamiaceae

Australia is home to only four genera of cycads, one of which is Lepidozamia, which includes the tallest types in the world. They also have the largest cones. There are only two species, both found in rainforests of the east coast. Rather like palms, they have fairly slender, straight, generally unbranched trunks, with long, pinnate leaves radiating from the top of the trunk. The leaves have relatively long, bare stalks. Like all cycads, they are dioecious, and both sexes bear a solitary terminal cone at least 60 cm (24 in) long. Until recently, lepidozamias have been grown only by botanical gardens and cycad enthusiasts, but these plants are now appearing more often in specialist nurseries. Their dark green, glossy, leathery foliage and elegant symmetry make them attractive sub­jects for indoor use while they are young.


L. hopei, from steep slopes of the lush rainforests of northern Queensland, can reach 10 m (33 ft) or more in height, mature plants forming a trunk and large crown. The leaves can grow as long as 3 m (10 ft) and the leaflets are 20-30 cm (8-12 in) long and flared at the base.

L. peroffskyana, from the eucalypt forests of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, where it is can reach 12 m (40 ft) in height, is much smaller in cultivation, at around 2-4 m (6-12 ft). The crown is renewed every year and can be 3 m (10 ft) across. New leaves appear together, and leaflets are shorter than those of L. hopei.


In areas prone to frost, grow as pot plants in an intermediate to warm conservatory or greenhouse, or in a warm room in the house. Grow in a gritty, soil-based potting compost, enriched with chipped bark. Keep only slightly moist in winter. Shade from direct sun but ensure good light. Outdoors plants need a semi-shaded, sheltered situation, free from frost. Propagate from seed sown in spring and germi­nated at 24°C (75°F). Germination and growth are very slow.


Zone 10.