If you have ever seen the movie ‘Jurassic Park’ then you would have seen Cycads. Cycads were around 280 million years ago and in the Jurassic period (Dinosaur time) they were big in numbers and in variety. Unfortunately since then for all different reasons more than half of the 320 species on earth are on the threatened or endangered list.
In Dubai they are used a lot in Landscaping and you will see them in places like Dubai Marina, Arabian Ranches and many of the parks.
Cycads come in different sizes but they all have a stout, cylindrical, woody trunk which has a crown of large, hard and stiff evergreen leaves. They are perfect for your garden as they can survive in full sun or semi-shade, can grow in sand or rock and prefer only a little water. In fact the only way you can kill them is by overwatering them.
You can grow them in a pot or put directly into the ground and they are fantastic planted in groups of three or more.
Most Cycads are slow growing, though there are some that will reach their maturity in 2 -3 years. Cycads can live up to 1,000 years in age.
They are often mistaken for a Palm or a Fern but in actual fact they are a ‘seed’ plant. Scientifically they are important as they may represent a link in evolution from ferns to flowering plants.
Cycads can be found in all subtropical and tropical parts of the world from Australia, Japan, South East Asia and Africa to China, India and the Americas.
I think they are an amazing plant because apart from their hardiness and their ability to survive they are a ‘living fossil’ and a reminder of how the world has changed and how important it is to take care of our environment for the future generations.