An epiphytic cycad with an unbranched, cylindrical, recurved trunk to 1 m long and 15 cm across, the outside with clusters of adventitious roots. Mature leaves 1-3 m long, pendant, 3-10 in a sparse, dangling crown, grey-green, flat or inversely V'd in cross-section; petioles 30-100 cm long, slender, sparsely prickly or nearly smooth; leaflets 40-64 on each leaf, 20-50 cm by 2-4 cm, oblanceolate, falcate, recurved, grey-green, moderately crowded, inserted at about 50° to the rhachis, margins entire, apex acuminate. Male cones 25-50 cm by 2-4 cm, cylindrical, cream to light brown. Female cones 25-50 cm by 8-12 cm, cylindrical to ovoid, yellow-green to light brown. Seeds 1.5-2.5 cm by 1-1.5 cm, ovoid, yellow, sarcotesta becoming mucilaginous (Jones 1993).
Panama: endemic in Atlantic coastal forests. It is apparently restricted to steep slopes in primary forest and grows on suitable trees in regions of high rainfall at altutudes of 50-1000 m (Jones 1993).
This is one of only two epiphytic cycads, the other being an apparently undescribed species of Zamia from Ecuador. Z. pseudoparasitica favors trees that are devoid of other epiphytes. The trunk of the cycad is firmly attached to the tree by the taproot, while many adventitious roots and the leaves "dangle and wave in the breeze.
Very little has been written about this species. Mature plants have only been found growing as epiphytes and seeds which fall on the ground germinate but die without becoming established. Birds or fruit bats are the probable distribution agents for the ripe seeds, which have a distinctive sour smell.
The plant produces it coralloid roots in dense hemispherical clusters 5-25 cm across. Its leaves, cones and seeds are among the largest in the genus (Jones 1993).
Last Modified 2012-11-28