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Zamia pumila L.
Coontie, Florida arrowroot
Synonyms: Zamia integrifolia, Zamia floridana
USDA Symbol: zapu
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
The short, woody stem and rootstock of this primitive fern-like plant is almost completely underground and produces a terminal crown of stiff, evergreen, pinnate leaves up to 3 ft. long. The brown, fleshy, erect, female or seed-bearing cones, 6-8 in. long, are pendent when mature and covered with dark-brown hairs.
Zamia is one of only a few primitive or ‘relict’ genera, commonly called cycads that are living remnants of plants that were abundant about 325 million years ago. Zamia pumila is the only species of this genus that grows in the United States.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Shrub Root Type: Tap Leaf Complexity: Pinnate Breeding System:
, Dioecious Leaf:
Dark green fronds Flower:
Red to red-orange seeds 12-13 cm Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Jul , Aug
FL , GA Native Distribution: Endemic
to central and southern Florida. Native Habitat:
Plants grow in dry, sandy pinelands and hammocks. Rarely occur in sandy coastal dunes. USDA Native Status: L48(N), PR(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well-drained soil with a light, organic cover.
Conditions Comments: Drought-tolerant. Makes a good foundation planting or ground cover if not walked on.
Coontie cones reportedly provide food in exchange for pollination services for two species of beetles in Florida, Pharaxonotha zamiae and Rhopalotria slossoni. The seeds are a source of food for mockingbirds, blue jays, and many other birds as well as insects and small mammals. Use Food:
The Seminole, Alabama, and many other Native
American tribes in the southeastern United States used the fruits and roots of coontie for food. Some people still prepare it today. The starchy stems and roots were the main source of flour for the Seminoles and many indigenous people of central and southern Florida. These peoples are attributed with increasing the plant’s distribution. The plant parts contain central nervous system toxins, which must be removed before consumption. Warning:
The roots of coontie are toxic when taken internally, without sufficient preparation. Interesting Foliage:
Birds , Butterflies
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
PropagationDescription: Can be propagated from seed. Cleaned seeds should be spread on the ground and covered with a thin layer of leaves or soil. After sprouting in six weeks that plants can be transferred to pots.
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Clean seeds of their sticky covering.
Commercially Avail: yes
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Native ground cover to replace grass in Florida.
February 04, 2008
Where can I find a list of ground covers to replace my grass. I live in the south of Ocala Florida.
view the full question and answer
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Native Seed Network
- Corvallis, OR
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Record Modified: 2007-01-01
Research By: TWC Staff