DescriptionA medium sized cycad with an erect or reclining trunk to 3 m tall and 30 cm diameter.
Mature LeavesNumerous, obliquely erect, 0.7 - 1.4 m long, stiff, rigid, dark bluish green, broadest near the middle and tapered to each end, flat in cross-section, straight in profile.
Male Cones20 - 40 x 6 - 10 cm cylindrical.
Female Cones20 - 35 x 12 - 20 cm, ovoid, woolly.
Seeds2.5 - 3.5 x 2 - 2.5 cm, ovoid, the sarcotesta smooth, white.
Distribution and HabitatEndemic to Mexico, where it is widely distributed in the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range, occurring in Veracruz (central parts), Queretaro, Hidalgo (northern parts), San Luis Potosi and Tamaulipas (southern parts). This species is most commonly found growing in tropical deciduous forest and oak forests between sea level and 1500 m altitude.
NotesDioon edule is most closely allied to D. angustifolium, from which it differs by its leaflets, which are broader, green when young and inserted at a less acute angle to the rhachis, and by its larger, ovoid seeds. It is also allied to D. caputoi and D. tomasellii but can be distinguished from both by its entire leaflets (on mature leaves) and smaller seeds. Young plants of D. edule have distinctly spinulose leaflets. Two notable variants of the D. edule complex, which may be in cultivation are:
1. from Hidalgo and Queretaro, where the plants have persistently hairy leaflets with strongly rolled back margins, and
2. from San Luis Potosi and southern tamaulipas, in which the young leaves are prominently glaucous.
CultivationSuited to subtropical and temperate regions. This species has been reported to survive temperatures down to - 8 C. A very popular cycad which is widely grown and has proved to be adaptable to a range of climates and situations. Plants grow best in full sun and need excellent drainage. Watering during summer is beneficial and unimpeded air movement is important to avoid foliage being damaged by excessive wet. Tolerant of light to moderate frosts.
PropagationFrom fresh seed, occasionally plants can be propagated by basal suckers.
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