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.
Rhizomes, roots, fruit.
Yields the toxic glucoside cycasin,
found in ten genera of living cycads.
Toxin is present in the roots, seeds and foliage.
- 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.
• 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
• 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.