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Cycads
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Home - Species - Concepts - The extended family - Plants - Cycads



What are they?
Cycads (Division: Cycadophyta) are the only surviving plants from the age of the dinosaurs (280 million years ago). They are considered as living fossils and it has been suggested that they evolved from the ancient "seed ferns" of the late Paleozoic. The Jurassic Period of the Mesozoic era is known as the "Age of Cycads" because these plants, along with the conifers and ginkgos, dominated the vegetation of the planet at this time. The name comes from the Greek koikas (palm), and its shape is similar to that of the palms although they are unrelated. Together with the gingko, they are considered the most primitive plants to have seeds and they represent an important stage in the evolution of seeding plants.

How many?
It is estimated that there are about 200 described species of cycads (Vovides 2000). In Mexico, 42 species of cycads in 3 genera are recognized: Ceratozamia, Dioon and Zamia. Globally, Mexico has the second largest diversity of cycads after Australia, with 80% of the species endemic to the country.

Where do they live?
They live in tropical and subtropical environments, in rainforest, dry forest, cloud forest, pine-oak forest and scrub.


 
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