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Family Cycadaceae / Zamiaceae
Zamia
Zamia pumila
L.
FALSE SAGO PALM
Da su tie

Scientific names  Common names
Zamia pumila L. Zamia (Tag.)
Zamia debilis L.f. ex Aiton Cardboard palm (Engl.)
Zamia integrifolia (L.f. ex Aiton) Kuntz Comfort root (Engl.)
Zamia floridana A. DC. Coontie (Engl.)
  False sago palm (Engl.)
  Florida Arrowroot (Engl.)
  Sago zamia (Engl.)

Other vernacular names
ARABIC: Zamyah.
CHINESE: Da su tie.
FRENCH: Zamie, Zamier.
GERMAN: Zapfenpalmfarn.
ITALIAN: Zamia.
RUSSIAN: Zamiia.
TURKISH: Zamia.

Botany
Zamia is a perennial palmlike dioecious plant with simple, sometimes branched, short trunk. Leaves are pinnately compound, crowded on the terminal part of the trunk, up to 1.5 m long, with a prickly stalk. Leaflets are 10-15 on each side of the rachis, opposite or alternate, oblanceolate, overlapping. Male cones up to 10 cm long, female ones are shorter.

Distribution
Recently introduced.

Parts utilized
Rhizomes, roots, fruit.

Constituents and Properties
Yields the toxic glucoside cycasin, found in ten genera of living cycads.
Toxin is present in the roots, seeds and foliage.


Uses
Folkloric
- Purely ornamental, without any known folkloric use in the Philippines.
- In folk medicine elsewhere, fruit used in therapeutic shampoos.
- Gum from the stem used for skin ulcers.
- Roots chewed for cough and believed to improve the singing voice.
- Dried powder placed inside socks and shoes to prevent athlete's foot by decrease moisture.
Others
• Washed roots contain 38% starch and 6% protein, used to make sofkee, a staple of the traditional Seminole Indian diet and a component in the diet of many indigenous peoples.
• Extracted starch from root is marketed as "arrowroot" as ingredients to biscuits baby food, chocolate, spaghetti. Also used in cooking as a thickener.

Toxicity / Caution !
• Cycad palms produce three toxins: cycasin, beta-methylamino-L-alanine and an unidentified toxin.
• Cycasin content is a known toxic glucoside, present in 10 living cycad genera.
• Cycasin has shown to be a strong mutagen.
• Toxic to cattle and sheep. In cattle, causes "wobbles" characterized by a weird stance and stumbling gait.


Availability
Ornamental cultivation.

Last Update July 2014

Photo © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
(1)
Zamia pumila Info

(2)
Toxicology Brief: Cycad toxicosis in dogs / Hany Youssef, BVSc, DVM, MS / Veterinary Medicine
(3)
Zamia pumila / Common names / ZipCodeZoo


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