The Gymnosperm Database


Distribution of Macrozamia (Jones 1993). You can also create a highly detailed map, and access specimen data, using the "search" function at the Australia Virtual Herbarium.


Macrozamia moorei in habitat [C.J. Earle, 1996.04.12].


Macrozamia moorei megasporophyll with two seeds [C.J. Earle, 1996.04.12].


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Miquel 1842

Common Names

Burrawangs, Zamia-palms (Harden 1990).

Taxonomic notes

This treatment adopts the species list of Moore (used by Jones 1993), who finds 24 described and 3 undescribed (as of 1993) species. See also Jones and Forster (1994), which I cannot locate and which describes seven species not treated here. This treatment includes (unlinked species not described):


"More or less palm-like dioecious plants with a usually unbranched stem forming a rather massive aerial trunk often >50 cm diam., or stem mainly subterranean, covered by the persistent leaf bases; all parts ± pubescent when young, glabrescent with age. Leaves few to numerous, simply pinnate but the pinnae sometimes dichotomously divided, the rachis straight or twisted; base of the petiole swollen, usually silky or tomentose. Pinnae numerous in mature plants, spreading or turned to one side, inserted near the edges of the rachis towards the upper side. Cones axillary, pedunculate; sporophylls terminated by upturned spines; spines usually largest towards apex of cone. Male cones ± cylindrical, often curved when old. Female cones ± ovoid, inner parts often bright pink; sporophylls with 2 ovules; sporophylls fall with attached seeds when ripe; seed with an outer fleshy brightly-coloured layer. "Note: juvenile plants may differ considerably from the adult forms in details of the leaves; in particular the pinnae are usually toothed at the ends and the petioles are long and slender" (Harden 1990).

Distribution and Ecology

Australia: Queensland, New South Wales, Northern Territory, and Western Australia. Subtropical and warm-temperate areas, usually on poor soils in sclerophyll communities (Harden 1990).

Big tree

M. dyeri (up to 6.5 m tall and 100 cm diameter) and M. moorei (up to 8 m tall and 80 cm diameter) are the largest species in the genus (Jones 1993).



Most parts of the plants are toxic. Various species are held responsible for poisoning livestock (Harden 1990). The seeds are poisonous, but the "Aborigines knew how to treat them to remove the poison, and so take advantage of the large amount of food provided by a single plant. One treatment was to cook the seed, break it up, and then soak it for up to three weeks in running water. In Western Australia, only the outer red part was eaten, after treatment by washing and burying" (Australia National Botanical Garden, Aboriginal Trail page, accessed 2001.06.11).



First known from Oligocene sediments in Tasmania (Jones 1993).


David L. Jones and Paul I. Forster. 1994. Seven new species of Macrozamia section Parazamia (Miq.) Miq. (Zamiaceae section Parazamia) from Queensland. Austrobaileya 4: 269-288. ABSTRACT: Seven new species of Macrozamia section Parazamia (Miq.) Miq. from south-east Queensland are described and illustrated. They are M. conferta, M. cranei, M. crassifolia, M. machinii, M. occidua, M. parcifolia, and M. viridis. All are restricted endemics allied to either M. plurinervia (L.A.S. Johnson) D.L. Jones or M. pauliguilielmi W. Hill & F. Muell. A key to the species of M. section Parazamia in Queensland is presented.

See also

Last Modified 2017-12-29